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Smartphone Safety

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CHEROKEE COUNTY, KANSAS -

Safer Internet Day is all about creating a better internet for everyone, particularly its younger users. And that's who Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves was thinking about this year. 

"We see it a little bit in middle school, but specifically high school, where students are sending or receiving inappropriate photographs. We see a lot of times, where they may be sending a picture to their boyfriend or girlfriend at the time, but if that relationship ends on bad terms, those photographs then get shared with the student body," said Sheriff Groves.

That's an issue of which Columbus High School Assistant Principal Dan Grundy is also well aware.

"Especially with Snapchat and things like that, the original thought was that (a photo) would disappear and it just doesn't. Those kind of things can be stored," said Grundy.

Beyond high school embarrassment, photos of underage students involving nudity can get students in big trouble with the law. The experts say, knowing which apps on your kid's phone do what, is key to keeping them out of trouble.

"For me, it's the apps. The amount of apps being created that are used to circumvent blocks, or ways that parents may use to check what their kids have on phones (is troubling)," said Grundy.

"There's apps that allow anybody to hide what an actual application is under something innocent, so it may look like they have a calculator on their phone, but they may be storing inappropriate photographs there," said Sheriff Groves.

When it comes to smartphone safety, school officials and the sheriff have the same advice: communication with the student is key.

"That's why we're encouraging (parent) conversations with their kids about what they should be sending, and what they should not be," said Sheriff Groves.

"You need to be involved with your student's phone. You need to be interacting, checking with them, seeing what they're doing," said Grundy.

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