I see a lot of parents even famous ones create social media accounts for their children, but do they take the dangers of social media into account? Several years ago I came across a video posted by Bark, a tech company, who decided to show parents what can happen to kids as young as 12 on social media. These kids are easy meat to pedophiles, who will work hard to coerce, abuse, collect photos and videos of these kids and use that to get more.
Once this 37 year old mom transformed into a 11 year old girl, they immediately received inappropriate questions. In the video, they mentioned a lot of these lurkers go unreported, which I think contributes to this problem’s perpetuation, but also due to lack of understanding and awareness. The authorities cannot build a relationship with your children for you, you have to build trust, honesty, and teach them about the dark side of using social media, considering that a statistic collected by Guard Child states that 67% of teens said they know how to hide their online activities from their parents.
According to Statista, 35% of Romanian women experienced sexual harassment since 15 years old, compared to 55% of British women with 29% of sexual crime relationships were initiated on a social media platform. Even if you are millennial, a YouGov 2017 survey discovered that 29% of women received unwanted body pictures(I’m being classy for the sake of this post) from strangers.
It’s not just Instagram and Snapchat which were mentioned by Bark’s video, but also Twitter, where porn also doesn’t get removed, despite reports from users, even if you report photo manipulations (celebrity faces pasted on porn pics for example – I tried it). Your minor boys aren’t safe either. ‘’Influencer’’ James Charles flirted many times with minor boys on TikTok, and defended himself saying he will ask for ID next time he will have a conversation with a guy, among other things, and had no charges pressed because he’s rich.
Back in February 2022, Pink News reported on a man who created a fake account on a dating app posing as a lesbian and was caught by the Cumbria Constabulary, who worked undercover. The groomer denied accusations, but they had too much evidence, like the times the man asked for explicit photos and s*x acts, all of which led to his 27 month sentencing, but now looking at what he did, clearly is not enough, even if he has to sign sex offenders register and abide by sexual harm prevention order for 10 years.
Virtual kidnappings are also an increasing trend and the Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI)’s special agent Siobhan Johnson issued a warning to the public about it in March 2022. The definition of virtual kidnapping is ‘’An extortion scheme wherein people receive phone calls telling them their loved one has been kidnapped and will be killed or harmed if they do not immediately go to the bank and wire money’’. One of the ways to identify a virtual kidnapping is asking how the victim looks like, which they were seen to struggle answering. The special agent gives parents tips to prevent the scam, like having a password if one of your kids is indeed in trouble, and to never share travel details(location, dates) online, because scammers search for victims that way.
This is why I think the internet needs to be policed more, for safety reasons. I wonder what Elon Musk will do now, after he made an offer to buy Twitter for $41.39 billion and got blocked. After news that he became the platform’s biggest shareholder, Vanguard upped their stake in the platform, so clearly someone was upset not being number 1. That put aside, this post is just a reminder to have fun with social media responsibly.