As technology changes, online predators have “upped their pursuit” of under-aged children. Sexual exploitation of children is a world-wide issue, however I found the graphic on this map from Toronto quite compelling. The 7000 dots on the map represent a potential computer that is actively engaged in downloading child pornography, uploading it, or making it available, according to OPP Staff Sgt. Frank Goldschmidt.
Some police departments have stated that they have a hard time keeping up, as technology is rapidly changing. Predators find children on many social media platforms such as Kik, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., however as parents we can help the police and do our part. Although are children are savvy consumers of technology, online predators are also consumers and know exactly where to find and connect with children.
Predators are master manipulators as they look for vulnerabilities and begin their pursuit of children. They pursue their prey with something as simple as, friending or posing as friends of young people.
As parents we cannot cross our fingers and hope our children are safe online. Online predators are serious about communicating with potential victims, we must be relentless in our pursuit to protect our children.
Quick tips and a few questions to ask yourself and your child:
- Do you know what apps your child uses?
- What is the purpose of the app?
- Does your child really need that app? For example, my child wants Snapchat and after our discussion my answer was NO. Snapchat is a texting feature which deletes messages after the users have read them. However the texting function which is standard on her phone, is all she needs to text. Snapchat in my opinion is not an app teens need if they merely want to text their friends.
- Randomly conduct an app check on your child’s phone. Simply review the apps and ask questions if necessary.
- Set rules for what apps can be downloaded, what social media sites they can join, and set expectations.
- Discuss the “definition of friend.” In my home a friend is someone I have seen offline..not a friend of a friend. Friend requests should only be accepted from people your child knows, not someone they “kind of” know.
- Although you can always purchase online monitoring software, it’s more effective to communicate. You can learn a lot by simply speaking with your children about their social media habits and activities.
- This is not popular, but…Get in their business, it may save their lives.
Marlin Page is a Globetrotting Speaker, Founder of Sisters Code, Technology Strategist- empowering women and girls in STEM and Life, and Excuse Annihilator. As Chief Technology Mommy, Marlin shares online safety news to keep parents informed of what’s happening in the “online” world. Marlin also currently serves as a speaker for Microsoft’s Global DigiGirlz Program, has been invited to lead a technology discussion at SXSW’s Interactive Festival and Techonomy. Marlin serves as a speaker/panelist for a number of organizations. Marlin is also serves on the professional panel for WDIV’s “Live in the D.” Marlin’s book and Music Single Always Believe, empowers girls to love themselves, believe in themselves, and celebrate their uniqueness.
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