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Whisper, Snapchat, Ask.fm, others among apps Grapevine-Colleyville ISD is warning parents about

Grapevine-Colleyville ISD holds tech info sessions for parents each month. This month a list of apps and the dangers they can pose of teens.

COLLEYVILLE, Texas — The app is called Whisper. And it's where you can talk anonymously and locate people by GPS. It's popular with teens. And it's the app a predator in DeSoto used to meet up and have sex with a 14-year-old girl last year.

Serafin Sanchez Ruiz, 29, pleaded guilty last September to one count of enticement of a minor.

Whisper was on the list of more than two dozen apps that Grapevine-Colleyville ISD's chief technology officer warned parents about at Heritage Middle School Tuesday night.

"It's a lot of 'out of sight out of mind' for parents,” Kyle Berger said. “And we don't really realize who's on the other side of that device."

Apps that serve as anonymous tools for bullying. Apps that serve as gateways for pedophiles and predators. A presentation that had Rachel Abell, a mom of four, both educated and a bit scared.

"Because hopefully I'll have the tools to go home and address this with our family,” Abell said. “And scared because I’m sure it's going to open my eyes to how much is out there that I don't know."

GCISD holds meeting like this every month at various schools, teaching parents about tech issues and how to talk through them with their kids.

"To have the self-awareness to be like, 'Stop, wait a minute, is this what I need to be doing?'” GCISD parent and school board member Louie Sullins said.

And while the school district has made information and their warnings on each of these apps available online, parent Tangenika Cuascud offered her best non-tech advice: Her open approach with her 15-year-old son.

"I really want to foster an environment in which he discloses openly,” she said. “I have a rule in my house, no topic is taboo."

"There is no technology silver bullet,” added Berger. “That's what it comes down to. Nothing beats having that conversation and building that relationship with your kid and having the discussion about what they're doing on the device."

A device that rarely comes with a warning label. But has plenty of dangers just a touch screen away.

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