TUCSON, Ariz. - Parents know social media as something that can pull their kids into their own world -- Far removed from the family.
But Tucson Police know social media and smartphones can pull kids into a dangerous world so they're helping parents learn how to defend against it.
Through a Saturday morning class at the Tucson Police west side substation parents learned more about what a lot of them knew already; that kids can sink into a swamp of social media that could pull them into a world of drugs and sex trafficking.
Lieutenant Frank Hand commands TPD’s Special Investigations Section. He says, “This is a constantly changing environment. And these predators online, are like on the cutting edge as far as they look for the new thing. Or they even develop their own apps that they'll have people download so they can communicate with them."
There are apps that may look like an innocent calculator that are really ways to hide secret files like nude pictures.
Parents may not see through emojis that turn sexy talk into pictures.
Police say use sources like the Urban Dictionary to understand that texts like CU46 translate into "see you for sex." Or LMIRL means lets meet in real life.
To shake parents who think their children would never take that risk, Tucson Police show a video by Coby Persin. He normally puts entertainment on YouTube. But to make a serious point he posed as a fifteen year old and convinced girls to meet him in person--while their parents were nearby.
Here’s how it went when the girl, named Michaela came to a park.
Michaela: “Who are you?”
Persin: “From Facebook. Remember?”
Michaela’s father runs out and yells: “Michaela! Are you crazy? Are you out of your mind?”
Father: “He could have been a rapist! He could have been a pedophile! How could you do this?!"
Damon Jackson says he does check his daughter's phone looking for signs she's texting her way to a dangerous meeting.
"Let your kid be mad at you; and take their phone and check it. Better to have a little bit of anger now than I never see you again."