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Metro teacher serves warning to parents about apps that can connect kids with strangers

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LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. -- An area school is issuing a warning about two mobile apps that administrators and teachers say could put your children in danger. Most kids know they shouldn't talk to strangers, which is exactly what the apps allow your kids to do.

A health teacher at Summit Lakes Middle School sent out a notice to parents, urging them to be aware of Omegle and Yik-Yak, saying the apps' purpose it to connect people with strangers.

Teenagers are sharing more information about themselves on social media according to the Pew Research Center. The center says 78 percent of kids ages 12-to-17 have a cellphone, and half of those them have smartphones that give them access to the internet, which means they can access apps like Omegle.

The app picks someone at random for people to connect with, in fact, Omegle's homepage says: "Talk to strangers." While the app maker says it's not for use for people under 13, you can get permission to use it with parental consent.

“My concern is that the girls in this age and social media are looking for acceptance and affirmation, and to have one boy or one man or stranger say, ‘you're pretty’ is enough to lure them into a dark world,” said parent Amy Rowden.

Rowden is a mother of six and she says she monitors her kids’ online activity to make sure they're not putting themselves in danger.

“I do let her know she has to share with me what's she's posting,” she said.

That's something Johnson County, Kansas Sheriff's Office Deputy Jill Koch urges other parents to do as well. She says like Omegle, Yik-Yak is another app where users anonymously view messages, but messages are linked to people within a 10 mile radius of one another.

“If they are sharing their location, and also their conversation all in one, that can be very dangerous to a child,” Dep. Koch said.

She said often teens post innocently what they're doing or where they're going, and she says that can put them at risk of being targeted by a predator. Dep. Koch says the best thing you can do is talk to your kids about their apps and understand the social media platforms they're using so you can keep them safe. FOX 4 is told that's the primary reason the middle school alerted parent.

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