A recent trend that law enforcement is seeing is a rise in cases involving sextortion. Sextortion is when an offender threatens to share images, videos, or information about a victim’s sexual history unless the victims pay the offender or engages in more sexual acts. The offender will threaten to share the images or videos with the victim’s family and friends or will threaten to share them to large online platforms if the victims do not send money.
With the recent upsurge in sextortion cases, there are important details to keep in mind when keeping your child safe while on the internet:
- Advise your child not to friend or follow someone online that you can’t verify who they are in real life. This can also be applied to messaging on apps as well. Many common social media apps, such as Instagram, allow for messaging between people that are not friends on the app. Advise your child not to respond to messages from people you don’t know in real life.
- Monitor what your child is posting online. Posting too much personal information can make your child a target for online predators. Keeping last names, ages, addresses, and birthdates off the internet is a great way to stay safe while utilizing it.
- Teach your child about privacy settings and why they are important. Many social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter allow you to set your profile to private or only allows your followers to see what you post. This maintains a level of privacy online while also allowing your child to utilize social media safely.
- Be aware of what your child is doing online. Having an open conversation about what your child is posting online allows you to monitor your child’s activity while they are using social media. Being friends with your kids online allows you to see what they are posting and who their followers/friends are.
- Discuss what sextortion is with your child and how it can result from social media activity. A lot of sextortion cases start with a seemingly harmless message over social media and then spirals out of control, mainly because the child did not know how their actions would cause consequences. Discussing sextortion with your child makes them aware of how it can start and why it is illegal is a great way to keep your child safe while online.
Sextortion can be a scary topic to think about and a hard concept for children to understand, but starting the conversation early prepares children for the dangers they might face online later on. For more information regarding sextortion, please follow: Sextortion: Prevention & Response – Thorn for Parents.
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