“My child is a good kid! I just don’t think they’d look at anything they’re not supposed to online”
We hear this all the time.
Sometimes children don’t actually mean to break the rules.
…and sometimes they make poor choices when they are trying to achieve an outcome that requires “bending” the rules or when they are under pressure.
Children can also realise that they’ve accidentally broken the rules and then hide it because they are scared of having their device taken off them or their social media accounts closed by their parents.
Here is a quick video about how a child’s “program” or belief system may be putting them at risk of making poor choices.
THE PROGRAM & PREDATORS
A child’s misguided belief system is often exploited by predators online.
Children in 2019 are very well versed in knowing the information that they shouldn’t put online.
Younger children have a healthy fear of online predators and are very vocal about their intentions to not tell people they don’t know their personal information.
They are also very clear they wouldn’t send strangers pictures of themselves or have video conversations with someone they don’t know.
So, to get a child to give them what they want, a predator must TRICK a child into believing that complying with their requests is the safest or most practical thing they can do.
They will often get their first investment from a child by using the well-known “program” or belief system we spoke about earlier.
If mum or dad find out I’ve seen something I’m not supposed to, they will take my device or close my accounts (therefore hiding the fact that they’ve been exposed to something inappropriate …and giving the predators something to use to blackmail them further)
Before engaging a child this way however, an online predator will usually collect as much information about the child as possible from the account where contact has first been made, social media accounts, parent online activities and websites that the child may have had an article written about them on.
This personal information can then be used to increase fear in the child when they make threats to expose that the child has “broken the rules” or done something wrong online…
…using this information increases the chance that the child will comply.
Good children can be tricked into participating by people who spend their life working to exploit children.
Understanding this concept means that you can start conversations and take easy steps to better protect your child from these types of interactions.
Here is a quick video about how information can put your child at risk online.
WHAT IF YOUR CHILD IS DELIBERATELY TALKING TO STRANGERS?
A recent trend among children is the use of apps that allow them to talk to strangers with a misguided belief of anonymity due to the use of avatars and/or screen names.
THE CHILDREN OFTEN START USING THESE APPS BECAUSE THEY “JUST LOOK FUN.”
Firstly, the activities in these apps is often inappropriate for children to be participating in.
Second, there is always the chance that small pieces of information are given away that leads other users in the app to be able to find the real social media accounts of the child.
We recently did some research into new apps that children in schools we’ve been to have been using. Here’s 10 concerning things we’ve found:
- Children are using apps that they can talk to strangers but the children believe they are safe because they are using an animated avatar rather than real-life photos.
- They can simulate sex and sex acts with other players.
- Children often didn’t know to start with that this was possible in the app, but once they’ve seen it and their parents haven’t noticed, their curiosity kicks in and it seems like harmless fun. Sometimes they DID know as they were introduced by a friend.
- They can remove their avatar’s clothes.
- They can chat through a group chat function in the “room” they are playing in.
- They can be asked into private rooms with private chat features.
- They can create an account using their usual social media accounts.
- People they’ve interacted with can follow and friend them to stay in contact.
- These apps could easily be overlooked by a parent as a dance or movie making app.
- We have found many children to be using them and no parents that are aware their child is using them.
Here are a few tips for parents:
- Ensure your child’s device is set up that you must approve all apps before downloading.
- Check the apps yourself before giving them to your child. (It only takes a quick scan and you’ll usually see something you’d prefer your child not to…)
- Make sure your child is educated about the risks of talking to strangers online. (…but as we always say – make sure NO ONE else can hear your child’s conversations with their friends either!!)
Check out the video below to see how we educate young people to better protect themselves.
HOW WE HELP
We also have programs for: