Riley High School students show officers how to use social media

Published: May. 25, 2017 at 5:49 PM EDT
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Technology is constantly evolving. Unfortunately, it's not always the easiest to keep up with. That's why police asked teens at Riley High School to show them around the big apps they use.

It sounds a little silly, but cyber crimes are bigger than ever these days. Cyber Crimes Director Mitchell Kajzer says almost every type of crime there is now involves some sort of tech component. According to the Department of Health and Human Resources, as of February of 2016, 71 percent of teens are on multiple forms of social media. 94 percent of teens are online using a mobile device at least once a day. That in mind, officers need to know what the big apps are and how teens are using them.

You can find Riley High School sophomore Antonia Martinez on a lot of social media apps out there.

"Snapchat and messenger, twitter and instagram," Martinez said.

Those are just the standard apps everyone uses. But she's also using apps that are popular in her circles, which aren't popular in other crowds.

"So you think it's weird that people don't know about some of these apps yet?" I asked.

"Yes," Martinez said. "But I feel like it's most common for teenagers because we're always on our phones."

Police don't hang out in a high school crowd often, so some apps seem to go by the wayside. Popular apps in around Riley, like Monkey and Houseparty, are completely alien.

"I know there's new apps that are popping up literally all the time," SVU Detective Casey Hoff said. "It's sometimes hard for us to keep up with. The Monkey app, I guess that's new. And I guess there's new updates to Snapchat just yesterday."

It's not just the unknown apps that officers are discovering, even apps they already have, like Facebook Messenger, have hidden secrets.

"Facebook Secret Messenger," Hoff said. "Never heard of that."

"We showed [an officer] how to make a secret conversation and what a secret conversation does," Martinez said. "He really felt dumb after learning about it because we knew about it and he didn't."

All of these apps may seem harmless, but the negatives of social media lie in the "social" aspect.

"I think there's always danger with apps," Hoff said. "It depends on how you use them. There's always people out there that are, you know, trying to use them in negative ways."

A big problem police are facing with social media, is that something new is always popping up. And teens will jump on the bandwagon.

"If you don't know about it, then you're going to know about it in the next 15 seconds of it being out," Martinez said.

That's why police say you should monitor your kids online activity. It might be hard if they have their own phone, but at least know what apps they're using and check in on their profiles from time to time.

If they're a little more private, police recommend a monitoring software to keep an eye on them, or taking their phone away if you feel like there's something going on.