This could be any parent’s story, which is an unfortunate reality in cyberspace today, but this
mom’s story is about her 12-year-old daughter, the messaging app KIK, and online predators.
The mom, who requested to remain anonymous, said that she keeps tabs on her children, always knows where they are and who they are with, and checks their mobile devices frequently. While reviewing her 12-year-old daughter’s online activity, she came across screenshots of conversations in the messaging app KIK. What she read sent her into an emotional tailspin.
As she scrolled through the iPad’s camera roll, she read pieces of conversations between her daughter and men who said they were in their mid 20’s.
In several separate conversations, the mother read that these adult men were seeking information from her 12-year-old daughter. They were asking questions about where she lived and how they could meet up with her. There were also vulgar images and videos of adults having sex with tweens and teens as well as some depicting oral sex between grown men and young girls.
Kik Messenger isn’t the only messaging app with a reputation for widespread online predator use. Any app or gaming platform with a private chat feature can leave your child susceptible to communication from strangers and/or online predators.
What this smart mom figured out next was that her daughter had been groomed by these men. “Grooming” is the process by which a predator draws a victim in, establishes trust, alienates them from family, friends, and parents in order to sexually abuse or to exploit them.
If this caring mom had not picked up her daughter’s iPad that day, had she not checked the history and photo stream, this story could have ended very differently.
She said, “I’m just glad I found it now. We could have been trying to get these messages because she was missing. I’m glad I found it before something more happened,” she said.
An Easier Way To Keep Your Child Safe? Social Judo.
Parents no longer need to live in the constant fear and anxiety around what their children are exposed to online. Social Judo simply alerts parents, in real time, to things like profanity, sexting, nudity, drugs, alcohol, sexual language and all of the other things that concern parents in today’s digital age.
There is no need to scroll through every message, photo, or app. Alerts from Social Judo will create the parenting moments needed to set limits, to protect or to educate.
Cyber safety experts agree that anonymous messaging apps like Kik create the perfect environment for predators to connect with children.
Five Tips For Parents:
- Use Social Judo. The smartest parenting tool on the market sends alerts in real time to a parent’s smartphone, computer or tablet, giving them the ‘heads up’ to behavior that may suggest their child is in trouble.
- Set limits and clearly define consequences as to what you will do if your child breaks the rules you have established.
- Don’t simply trust your tween or teen to make good decisions online. The adolescent brain is not yet developed and they are hard-wired for risk-taking and impulsive decision making.
- Model appropriate smartphone use for your children. What you post, how much time you spend on your device and how you socialize in the real world matter.
- Help your child to understand the risks that go with the responsibility of having social media. It is always a useful exercise to talk about stories that you hear about in the news. Teens who lose scholarships to college because of an inappropriate post, legal cases involving sexting, or cyberbullying incidents create real-life examples that your teen can understand and consider.
Smarter parenting is a must today, and Social Judo is the tool to help you become the smartest parent you can be.
Andrea Difilippo is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, nationally recognized parenting expert and Chief Parenting Officer with Social Judo.