|Published:||Feb 04, 2013 5:12 PM EST|
|Updated:||Feb 04, 2013 6:48 PM EST|
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Online predators have found another way to prey on your children. If you're a parent, you probably know how popular Instagram has become. But Law Enforcement Groups around the country are sounding the alarm.
"Where kids go, predators follow. So you can expect that they will be on the different social media sites," said Beth Schell, a Crime Prevention Specialist with the Lee County Sheriff's Office.
The latest hotspot for predators is Instagram. The social network enables users to take a picture and share it on the web.
"I've never seen so many complaints just within a one month period and it's very concerning," said Det. Mike Harris with the Jefferson County, Colorado District Attorney's Office.
Harris has arrested and convicted hundreds of sex predators. But with Instagram, he's finding sex predators are reaching out to kids in great numbers.
"The teens call them 'creepers' and I call them predators," Harris said.
Harris says these predators are commenting on kids pictures. Inappropriate comments that are sexual and graphic and simply not suitable for teens.
"The problem is when you post these pictures you got to ask yourself the question 'who has access to them, and what type of people are accessing these pictures and for what reasons?'"
With most social network sites, users sign up to participate in Instagram. They're asked for a user name and many kids give their full real name and provide their cell phone number. This information becomes public for anyone to see.
"A lot of these kids are getting text messages, concerning text messages," Harris said.
"As adults and parents we need to know what each application does," Schell said. "What does Instagram do? What is my child able to see? Whose able to follow my child?"
Authorities at home say when you sign up for things, don't use your real name and don't give out your phone number. Parents remember, you can always block or report another user if they're bothering your children.