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East Hartford Police Warn of Social Media App Dangers for Children

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A warning to East Hartford parents from police. Officers are urging parents to monitor their child’s social media use, saying they’re getting reports of children being targeted by adults on a specific app.

With a sleek open and many ways to chat with people online, this is the social media app Tiya. It’s the focus of a warning from East Hartford Police.

The police department posted on Facebook stating officers received several reports in recent months of adults asking children for nude photos through Tiya. Some local parents were not surprised to see such a notice.

“It’s a crazy world we’re living in right now. There’s so much going on with police putting out stuff," said father Richard Thomas.

Thomas' kids attend East Hartford schools, and he says he’s always on heightened alert.

“Social media…even walking down the street, going to the store, or wherever they go, it’s always a concern when a stranger is talking to them,” Thomas said.

Former Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara says the app is clearly geared towards adults, especially with certain features.

“It also has a game of Truth or Dare where you can go on and engage in a Truth or Dare game with a variety of different users," MacNamara said.

On Tiya’s website, the client agreement explicitly states any pornographic images, including child exploitation, is a violation of its terms of use.

But MacNamara says with no real age verification, children can easily access the app’s features.

“The concept that its only for adults, you have to enter your age or date of birth in order to access some of these internet sites, is really a false sense of security,” he said.

MacNamara says parents should monitor their children’s social media activity closely.

“It’s not that you have to be careful once. You have to be careful all the time. These predators are patient, and they throw a large swath of a blanket out to people," MacNamara said.

He says one helpful step for parents is to understand online behavior.

“We have to teach our kids what is normal activity on these apps and be aware of what’s not normal,” MacNamara said.

We reached out to Tiya for comment, but haven't yet heard back.

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