Online predators are on the hunt and most parents have no idea just how close to their kids they are.
With the continued development of technology, social media apps, online gaming, and anonymous messaging sites, the instances of kids being approached by online predators is on the rise. One out of five children, aged 10-17 report that they have received a sexual solicitation or approach via the internet, and 54% said they frequently have conversations with strangers online.
While most local law enforcement departments have tasks forces to investigate cyber attacks, there are just not enough law enforcement officials to prevent this widespread issue that is putting children at risk.
As new apps flood the market to the tune of 60,000 a month, it has become an impossibility for parents to stay on top of the latest threats. Online predators are smart and determined and as popularity wears thin on sites like Facebook, they move on to the next, latest hot teen app or game.
Predators are savvy at grooming children and social media has become the easiest venue to do so. No age verification makes it dangerously simple for any adult to pose as a child and to connect with yours. Allowing your preteen or teen unsupervised access to many of these sites is a recipe for disaster.
On its website, The FBI states that it “is the lead federal agency for investigating cyber attacks by criminals, overseas adversaries, and terrorists. The threat is incredibly serious—and growing. Cyber intrusions are becoming more commonplace, more dangerous, and more sophisticated. Citizens are targeted by fraudsters and identity thieves, and children are targeted by online predators. Just as the FBI transformed itself to better address the terrorist threat after the 9/11 attacks, it is undertaking a similar transformation to address the pervasive and evolving cyber threat.”
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that between 1988 and 2016 more that 12.7 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation have been made to the CyberTipline.
The Digital Investigations Unit of the New Jersey State Police Department has offered a list of apps and websites frequented by online predators that parents need to be aware of.
- Yik Yak
Websites which offer anonymous chat via text and/or video:
Ghost Apps, places where kids can hide photos, videos, and messages from parents:
- Hide It Pro
- Private Photo Vault
- Photo Locker
- Private Photo (icon looks like a calculator)
- KYMS (icon looks like a calculator)
There are many other dangerous apps and games on the market that parents need to be aware of, but keeping up with the daily additions is virtually impossible. While there has been debate about whether or not parents should have access to their children’s online activities, there is no debating the online presence of pedophiles and predators.
The most important responsibility parents have is to keep their children safe. It is difficult, if not impossible to ensure that safety in cyberspace if parents are in the dark as to the apps, messaging sites, and games their children are using. Getting a parental tool like Social Judo will quickly give you the information you need to be the smartest parent possible.