Amanda Todd was like every other 15-year-old teenage girl. She wanted to make new friends online. The friendly chats went a bit further when one of her friends asked her to show her breasts on camera. This is when Amanda made a mistake – complying to the request of an “online friend” she had never met in person.
Not long after, she began to be blackmailed by that person demanding more revealing images of herself and a “performance” lest her image be circulated amongst friends and family. The threats escalated and when demands were not met, the image was circulated all over the web. A never-ending experience of taunts, humiliation, and cyber bullying culminated in Amanda being unable to bear the pressure and eventually committing suicide.
As sharing sexts become common among teens, cases of sextortion (forcing someone to do sexual favors by threatening to leak naked pictures of the victim online) and blackmailing for money are spiraling out of control. The FBI admits that the crime has reached unprecedented levels and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with the cases.
As sexting becomes a trend, children are putting themselves at risk. Online predators posing as young kids entice boys and girls to share nude images and later blackmail them.
Sextortion is not just limited to girls as boys are increasingly becoming the targets of this. A whole crime syndicate in Philippines targeted boys across the world by using social media. They then entice them to use video calls to engage in cybersex. Using pre-recorded videos of girls undressing, boys are enticed to do the same. Unsuspecting boys are then recorded and blackmailed for money.
All victims, be it boys or girls, give in to the demands of the predator (be it giving money or meeting his perverted desires) in the hope that the blackmailer won’t circulate their images or videos online. And all are too embarrassed to share the problem with parents and approach the police making it more difficult to catch the criminals.
Lesson for Parents: Win Child’s Trust
Children are not speaking up. Embarrassment and fear of punishment is holding them back. As kids, they can’t always be trusted to make the right decisions. One mistake and they tend to cover up by making more. All this time they are bottling up shame and fear inside.
One FBI special agent advices parents to talk to their children and let them know if they come forward, they are not going to suffer any punishment or ramification. Parents of sextortion victims wish that their kids had come to them earlier and told them the truth before it got so big. Talk to your kids like a friend and assure them that you stand with them, no matter what.
Keeping Kids Safe Online: 5 Things Parents Must Do
Besides having an open dialogue with children and making them aware of dangers online, you must put into implementation these 5 things for added safety:
Keep Your Devices Safe
First things first. Safer your devices, safer your kids are going to be. Anti-virus software’s are incapable of detecting advanced malware attacks. A Wi-Fi security solution will offer full protection. No possibility of malware attacks, ransomware attacks, phishing, and several other cybercrimes. For instance, WideFi blocks all threats in real time keeping your devices safe from any malware or other threat.
Block Adult Content
Block all possible websites and content that lure your kids into the murky world of internet. WideFi offers parents a “Remove Adult Content” feature that makes online browsing much less dangerous.
Keep a Check on Child’s Activity
Although it is a time-consuming task but do keep checking your child’s online activity at intervals – websites visited, apps visited and how long they spent on those. That ways, you can come to know if your kids are logging into chat rooms and other potentially dangerous platforms. WideFi offers this powerful feature too.
Own a VPN
Say goodbye to identity theft and hacking threats by owning a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN provides a secure environment within the internet and encrypts all information that passes through it making your data safe from hackers. WideFi lets you have your own Virtual Private Network and fend off online predators.
Lay Ground Rules
No online surfing during family time, lunch time and bed time. Besides ensuring that kids are using internet in a healthy way, it also gives family more time to share their day’s events. The more time the family members give to each other, more the chances that children will share school incidents and online experiences with you. If this becomes a practice, then kids will share unpleasant experiences too. WideFi assists parents in this task too. It offers parental controls “Family Time”, “Time Outs” and “Bed time” thus letting you control internet usage with click of a button.
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Ultimately, the most powerful tool in protecting kids lies with you – Prevention through Education. You can’t spy 24/7 on your kids. But you can make them prepared for dealing with any unpleasant encounter.
Also remember that your children won’t always become the victims, they can be the bully too. Sensitize them as to how labelling others or commenting in bad language can hurt others’ self-esteem. If they’re on the receiving end of cyberbullying, they must learn not to react as that is exactly what the bully is looking for. Last but not the least, make them believe that they can always share “anything” with you and you won’t judge or reprimand them.
Sorry parents but the buck stops with you. For you are the guardians of their galaxy –real and online!
P.S. SaferNet is the only wireless network security software that is 100% cloud based. That means, you don’t have to break a sweat in installing any hardware. Protect Your Kids with SaferNet.