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Sex offenders and social media

When it comes to kids and social media, do you know what they're posting? Or more importantly, who can see it? (WICS)

When it comes to kids and social media, do you know what they're posting? Or more importantly, who can see it?

"You're never sure of who you're talking to," said Lincoln resident Lisa Pruitt. " They could be anybody."

Including a sex offender.

"They're not aware of what people can see," said Pruitt. "They're not aware that adults can't be trusted. To them it's very simple, 'Oh it's my friends on Facebook'. They don't realize other people can pretend to be that friend."

A recent Supreme Court ruling allows registered sex offenders to have access to social media.

The decision comes after a North Carolina law keeping sex offenders from sites like Facebook was deemed unconstitutional, violating the first amendment.

"I would compare it to giving somebody that is involved in burglaries, residential burglaries, car burglaries, putting a bag in front of them saying 'here are burglary tools, this is at your disposal.' What you're going to do with it, we don't know," said Officer Ryan Pearce with the Chatham Police Department.

Chatham Police officer Ryan Pearce said registered sex offenders are required to report any social media accounts, but unfortunately, there are ways around it.

"When people who are interested in soliciting children, they don't have boundaries. They don't have limitations. They just do what they do to fulfill a need they have so you always have to be in front looking for that," Pearce said.

In fact, Officer Pearce said 57 percent of surveyed kids said they've been asked to send or receive inappropriate images online.

That means it's up to kids and parents to stay vigilant.

"If there's somebody that doesn't look right and they're asking your kid to visit another social media site, that's probably an indicator that maybe this person is involved in grooming or solicitation and they're wanting to take them to a site that they're more familiar with and comfortable that they know what they can get away with there," added Pearce.

With new apps coming out almost daily, it can be hard to stay on top of them.

"We as parents and grandparents try to supervise but you just can't all the time," Pruitt said.

That's why it's important to have an open line of communication.

"One thing that I teach to kids at school is making sure that kids know that they have a safety net," Pearce said. "Who is their safety net? And if they don't feel comfortable with their parents, they need to have someone to reach out to when something's uncomfortable."

Another resource is reporting inappropriate profiles or posts on social media sites like Facebook.

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