An ONLINE PREDATOR can groom a CHILD in less than 20 minutes, according to research
Updated: Feb 8
Technology changes really fast, and unfortunately, some people find ways to exploit it just as quickly. A million new Internet users come online every day - according to the organisation “We are Social”, this means more than 10 new users every second. Like any tool, the Internet comes with risks and dangers if used improperly. For families, education about data safety is more important than ever. In this scenario, sadly more children are falling victim to paedophiles that use the Internet to attract them; these bad guys are also known as “online predators”.
I found some disturbing but very informative facts presented in the article “Parents, here's the truth about online predators” by Christine Elgersma (CNN - Common Sense Media). Through a quick look at the main points, I noticed how It is essential that we understand what can make children (using the Internet) so vulnerable, so we can take steps to help protect our children and prevent online abuse from happening. Another obscure fact about online predators, according to research conducted by Swansea University, is that it can take less than 20 minutes for “highly skilled” paedophiles to groom a child on the Internet (The Telegraph - by Sean Dean). Another concerning number is that recently there were almost 8.5 million reports of material showing child sex abuse from 45 countries around the world, according to the membership body of Internet hotlines (Inhope Report).
Some STRIKING facts:
1.According to the New England Journal of Public Policy, contact with online predators happens mostly in chat rooms, on social media, or in the chat feature of a multiplayer game (Roblox, Minecraft, Clash of Clans, World of Warcraft, and so on).
2. Most games meant for kids -- such as Roblox and Animal Jam -- have built-in features and settings that are designed to prevent inappropriate comments and chat. Though they're often imperfect, they do help.
3. Games that aren't designed only for kids have fewer controls, settings, and safeguards.
4. Any app or online space that allows contact with strangers without moderation or age verification can allow contact between kids and adult strangers.
5. Teens sometimes visit adult sites, chat rooms, and dating apps out of curiosity regarding sex and romance.
Parents must be aware of their children’s online activities, The Telegraph Online states that a four-year study into online behaviour conducted by Swansea University found that paedophiles employ a range of techniques to persuade children to do what they want at a worrying speed. According to Dr Cristina Izura, an open conversation is essential: “Parents could try to open up discussions with their children about the dangers on the Internet.”
Also I found in the article “Parents, here's the truth about online predators” some important recommendations to help parents to deal with this serious issue. It is the responsibility of parents to make sure their children are prepared to navigate those risks safely and intelligently.
1.First, stay on top of what your kid is doing online by asking them which apps, games, and other tech they use.
2.If they're on social media, friend or follow them.
3.Set rules about times and places for device use -- for example, banning phones and tablets from bedrooms. Find out how they chat -- is it through an app or through their phone by SMS texting? (If they're using an app, it won't be easy for you to see it, so ask to do occasional spot checks.)
4.Make rules around who they can chat with -- for instance, only people they know in real life.
5.If your kid's a gamer, use these questions to probe deeper: Do you like multiplayer games -- and why? Do you chat with others while you're gaming? What's been your experience so far? What would you do if someone you didn't know contacted you?
6. Help them set privacy settings to limit the contacts in their games.
HOW TO REPORT AN ONLINE PREDATOR IN THE UK:
Anybody can report their suspicions to authorities, however; reports of suspected child abuse must be made in good faith. This means that the reporter does not need to provide evidence to prove the child is being abused, but should reasonably believe that the report is true, or at least likely to be true (Legal Beagle, 2018). Click here
My personal considerations: keeping children safe online is a goal everyone must support – parents and educators, online companies, organizational leaders, including social media moderators, etc. If anyone doesn’t understand the online threats children face, it’s time to get educated, and educate all children as well. Let’s think about this: how can I, as a parent, minimise the risk of my child becoming a victim?
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