Special Report: Hidden dangers of social media

By Beau Ebenezer

April 30, 2014 Updated Apr 30, 2014 at 10:58 AM CDT

CENTRAL ILLINOIS -- Could dirty pictures end up in your child's phone? Could they be the ones sending inappropriate messages to strangers?

Within just minutes of researching the latest form of social media, we discovered leaked photo after leaked photo.

Many of these indecent pictures came directly from the same app, Snapchat.

It is the newest social picture sharing craze.

The app allows users, 13 years and older, to snap a photo and send it to numerous friends.

Social media expert, Tammy Finch said it is the most concerning app to her because strangers have the ability to follow you without your permission.

Users of Snapchat also have the option of allowing friends to keep and view their snaps for up to 24 hours.

"These perverts will follow them hoping they will get a picture," said Finch. "The picture only lasts for 10 seconds, but people can still screen shot them. They can keep them that way."

But Snapchat is not the only program that could put your children in harm's way.

More and more programs are coming out of the woodwork like Pinterest and Instagram.

Finch said the best way to keep your children out of danger is to monitor their use.

Social media on the home computer can be monitored with programs like K-9 Web Protection. It can be downloaded free for parental controls.

If they are using smart phones, you may have to do what Chillicothe mom, Danielle Dawson does.

She spends hours every night checking the activity on each of her five kids' accounts.

"I watch everything they do," said Dawson. "Emails coming in, I read them. Facebook now has an activity log. If I see that they went on a page that they shouldn't have been on, or if by accident a friend posted something and they went on their and liked it, I'll unlike it and block them."

Facebook currently has more than one billion monthly active users with Twitter and Instagram right behind them.

Snapchat is at more than 26 million users.

Social media is only continuing to grow with programs like Vine, Tumblr, Kik, Reddit, Wanelo and Pheed.

As the app market continues to expand, experts advise parents to expand their knowledge of these programs as well.

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