A Louisiana man is outraged after discovering that his eight-year-old daughter was allegedly targeted by a 35-year-old man online.
Robert Smith of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, made a horrific discovery on his daughter's iPod, WAFB reports. Smith allegedly discovered what he terms a series of 'inappropriate messages' that were sent between an unidentified male and his young daughter.
"It was like 'how are you, sweetie… oh, you're so sweet… thank you sweet girl'," Smith said. "Very inappropriate stuff… if he could come hang out, if he could do this and that and I love watching your dances so much and do you like me and do you think I'm cute."
According to Smith, the messages were all sent through an app called musical.ly. The app allows users to create lip-sync videos and receive comments on their performances. According to Smith, his daughter posted videos of herself singing, and the accused predator left responses that went "a little too far."
"I was very upset… very upset," Smith said. "I can't explain and can't say enough how upset I was when I saw the message."
To Smith's horror, he scrolled through the app to discover more than 75 messages from the same individual. According to Smith, the man not only sent pictures of himself to Smith's daughter, but also allegedly convinced the young girl to send him pictures, as well.
"The further I went up and then I see her taking pictures and sending it to the guy I'm like oh no… this is a bad deal," added Smith.
According to WAFB, none of the pictures contained nudity, but Smith still alerted the police. He claims this is a wake-up call to the dangers that technology poses for those with young children.
"It's just a whole world of stuff out there that you don't know what your kids are doing when they have these devices and they have the internet at their access at such a young age," Smith said. "You don't know what they're exposed to."
According to the website Internet Safety 101, 13 percent of second- and third-grade students reported using the internet to talk to people they did not know, while 11 percent reported having been asked to describe private things about their body. Another 10 percent have been exposed to private things about someone else's body.
Those statistics hit all too close to home for Smith. "You have to be a helicopter parent these days," he said. "You can't just turn a blind eye to this because there's some very bad people out there. It's just really sad that [...] I have to show her what kind of cruel, harsh world this place can be."
The case is currently under investigation by police.