Experts warn local parents of instant messaging app Telegram

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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — With more children and teens relying on technology to communicate, local parents are urged to be on the lookout for this app. According to experts at the Victims Assistance Center of Jefferson County, this includes the instant-messaging app called Telegram.

Telegram is a free cloud-based app available to both Android and iPhone users. However, some of its features are considered dangerous to younger users. This includes its secret messaging option that will delete messages after a period of time, and encrypted video calling, VoIP, and file sharing.

VAC Child Advocacy Center MDT Facilitator Cassidy Crino warned that the combination of these two features makes it unfit for all young users. “The secret chat option allows for messages to time out, whether it be a day or an hour or a week. So if a message or an image or a video were to time out, it would be virtually impossible to get that back and very difficult to keep that child protected,” Crino shared.

She warned that this can make it extremely difficult for law enforcement in child abuse investigations to determine the content in messages, as well as identify offenders.

“If a child were to be exposed or exploited on Telegram through a chat or if there were pictures of them shared around. And if law enforcement was trying to get those back, they would have to work with the app Telegram and their creators,” Crino said. “But if it’s deleted and encrypted it would be near impossible.”

Instead of Telegram, or apps that function similarly, Crino suggested other instant-messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger for kids, which is directly linked to a parent’s account.

Parents can also check the child’s phone to screen for what apps are visible. Parents or guardians whose children have iPhones can also go into battery usage to determine which apps are being used the most, even if they are hidden.