BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) -When you think about the TikTok app you probably picture innocent lip-syncing, but what you probably don’t imagine is graphic conversations between potential child predators and your kids.
“I discovered it when my daughter was asleep.”
This is one of the pictures a Tuscaloosa mom who wants to remain anonymous found on her 11-year-old daughter’s phone when she went in to tuck her in one night. She found her daughter asleep, but her phone was still on and open to the messaging section of the TikTok app.
“I was absolutely floored. I was amazed, I was shocked, I was hurt, just all kinds of emotions I had about it.”
And the more she looked, the more disturbed she became.
“I saw where a video was deleted and my child was saying ‘are you hurting yourself?’ so this was something very graphic that a parent wouldn’t want their child to be exposed to.”
We looked at some screen grabs of these conversations, many too graphic to show. One conversation included someone who asks the 11-year-old “so u live in Alabama?” The child later asks the other person to send a picture of themselves, and this is what she got.
Mom said, "There was other text messages trying to let her know “you’re beautiful,” “you’re this , you’re that, and just telling them things that, trying to comfort the child. I think we should let our children know the bad guy doesn’t always look bad and we have be aware they don’t always look scary or sound so scary.”
This mom says she hopes you can learn from her scary experience.
“If you’re not really paying attention to it and kids are smart, they find ways to get into it. I’ve seen where she created a username and all of that. So as good as technology is, we still have to be ahead of it also. I just encourage parents to not get too busy with their daily routine to make time for the children. There are people out there that will make time to listen and will make time to empathize with them and try to be their friend, all in the wrong way.”
And if you find your child’s been involved in conversations like these, she recommends being careful in how you confront them.
“She didn’t clam up. Once she seen I took it calm and took it the best way I could, she seemed to be more comfortable. And I think that’s what we all have to remember, is to try to keep ourselves calm and just have a great conversation about it and that will help them to not withhold information.”
This mom says she reached out to law enforcement who told her these numbers and usernames would be difficult to trace. They recommended disconnecting internet access from her daughter’s phone and keeping all of the internet-connected devices the girl has access to in a public part of their home.