How Predators Trick Kids into Producing Porn

May 22, 2017

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There was a time, not too long ago when kids went outside to play with their friends – friends who were schoolmates and even known to parents. Games of kick the can, whiffle ball, basketball or a bike ride were encouraged by parents with the simple cautionary warning – “be careful crossing the street and don’t talk to strangers.”
Times have changed.

Conversations are abbreviated texts and symbols rather than face to face paragraphs. Kids spend as much time (if not more) playing online as they do outside. And online “friends” are often unknown to them.

Online Friendships

In their invincibility, kids and teens often believe the profile of their new “friend”—that their gender, age, location and genuine interest in the common game is honest. At the very worst, that “friend” is an online predator luring your child to a face to face meeting or asking them to share sexually explicit photos with them online.

At the very best, online “friends” are just friends who never meet and play in a virtual reality with one another. Parents’ naivete with cyber technology and online relationships renders them clueless and often helpless in making sure their child maintains online safety.

3 Ways to Keep Kids Safe

Here are 3 ways to begin the conversation with your child to keep them safe from online predators and becoming victims of unintended pornography.

  1. Ask: Ask your child if they know any of their friends of schoolmates who have connected with a stranger online. Broaching this subject can be difficult and may be greeted with a one-word answer or inaudible sound. Perhaps bringing it up like this might help:

    “Hey, I heard a story in the news that teenagers were tricked into a friendship on an online gaming site. Their online friend told these teens that they knew some kids at their school. After a conversation online, the online friend asked these kids to send photos of themselves. And then suggested they send nude photos too. Then those photos went viral to a child pornography site. Did you guys hear about this at school? So, how do your friends stay safe from creepy people online who aren’t honest about their age or who they really are?”

  2. Discuss and Listen: Discuss the reality of the problem with your teen and listen to their response and perspective. Share with them that the problem of online predators seeking out teen victims is growing. Some studies (Briggs, et al, 2010) indicate that nearly two-thirds of the Internet offenders said that they had initiated the topic of sex in their first chat session or game.

    More than half of the offenders disguised their identity when they were online. These offenders encouraged “sexting” (the sharing of nude photos of themselves on cell phones.) Talk about their ideas of healthy prevention for themselves and their friends.

  3. Prevent: Preventions include an education program that would inform kids and parents of predators’ methods. These programs, whether at home or at school, would be highly informative and beneficial in dealing with the techniques of online predators. Placing safeguards on your family’s devices is also helpful. Safeguards such as Net Nanny, helps parents protect their children from online pedophiles. The software can assist parents in monitoring the information, comments, and chats that children share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Google+.

    Prevention is not only key for current media misuse, but for future implications. Author Ann Brenoff, with Huffington Post, had the statistics on her side. “Kids can mess themselves up royally on social media if they aren’t careful. College admissions officers pay attention to what prospective students post on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Post a photo with a bottle of beer in your underage hand and you are taking a risk you might not want to take. In a Kaplan Test Prep survey of more than 350 college admissions officers in the U.S., 35 percent said they looked at applicants’ social media accounts to “learn more about them.” Forty-two percent said that what they found negatively impacted an applicant’s admissions chances. Negative discoveries included criminal offenses, photos of drug or alcohol use, racial prejudice or “inappropriate” behavior.”

Once you have asked your child, discussed and listened to your teen, and implemented some prevention strategies in your home, get ready for the next wave of change. Technology will shift but the parenting relationship you have with your child remains the same – you are the same parent who sent them off to play with concerned loving words “be careful crossing the street and don’t talk to strangers.” Be mindful of the “virtual” streets they cross and the strangers they deem friends.