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Recent Charges Reinforce Teen Smartphone Safety - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Recent Charges Reinforce Teen Smartphone Safety

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20-year-old Grand Forks man Eric Sansburn was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography, luring minors by computer and sexual assault.

Police say Sansburn contacted the victims, all between the ages of 13 and 17 years old, electronically.

He created several accounts on social media websites and smartphone applications like "Kik Messenger" and "Snapchat," where photo messages are supposed to disappear after a few seconds of viewing.

It's hard to imagine our lives now without smartphones, especially for younger generations.

16-year-old Maddie Pillen spent the afternoon shopping at West Acres Mall in Fargo.

"I've had a couple people text me and snap me, so I got some pictures. Just the usual stuff," she says.

But according to an article from the Sanford Health website, experts say parents should watch out for what teens are sending, receiving, and who it's from. 

"Sometimes like random people on Snapchat will add me and it'll be a random girl that says, 'Call me at this number,' and I don't know them so I remove them or block them," says 16-year-old smartphone user Karmyn Kalstad.

"Well Snapchat's kind of like a more funny app. Me and my friends always snap like weird faces," says Pillen.

But the experts say parents should explain to teens that once a message is sent, it's no longer in your control.

They say it can be hard for teens to understand the potentially permanent consequences of their interactions.

Mother Karla Anderson has found it useful to set boundaries.

"They plug their phone in in a different room. They don't take their phones into their bedrooms because I don't want them on the phone at night," she says.

She keeps a close eye on their use.

"I kind of have control of everything they do and purchase on their phones," she says.

Another mother Dawn Robson cautioned her teens about who they make contact with.

"To really be cautious, also, about friendships that you can make online and that they might not be real," she says.

Experts say a key element is open conversations with your kids about personal responsibility, boundaries, and resisting peer pressure.

"Step into that role and don't just feel like we can't influence them because of the cultural pressure," says Robson.  "That relationship is really important and we do have an influence on them," she says.

Experts say it's important to explain to teens that no message or photo shared through the Internet or smart phones is ever truly private or anonymous.

 

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