Online solicitation of minors has risen 97.5% since the start of the pandemic! Now, more than ever, it is important to educate your children on the dangers of the internet. This blog will discuss the definition of online solicitation, how to talk with your children about online predators, and two tips for your child if they are approached by a stranger online.
Is your teen on dating apps such as Tinder, Hinge, or Bumble? This video, featuring Retired Investigator Moe McClanahan, will discuss the dangers of dating apps and why they can be particularly dangerous for teens. Dating apps have become one of the most popular forms of dating in the United States.
Instagram’s New “Vanish Mode” – What Is It and Why It’s Dangerous
Instagram released a new feature to their messenger platform in late 2020 called “Vanish Mode.” Similar to the popular app Snapchat, Instagram’s Vanish Mode allows your messages to disappear. Unlike Snapchat’s automatic feature, Instagram requires you to turn on this feature in order for messages to disappear.
Why is it important for parents to stay in control of their child’s Internet usage? The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) is reporting a 28% increase in reports sent to the CyberTipline in 2020. (You can see the full statistics and more information on the CyberTipline here .) Unfortunately, cyber crimes against children are increasing. As a parent, it is important to know what your child is doing on the Internet so that you can keep them safe.
What is sextortion? According to the FBI, sextortion is “a serious crime that occurs when someone threatens to distribute your private and sensitive material if you don’t provide them with images of a sexual nature, sexual favors, or money.” Predators will often use fake social media profiles to gain the trust of children. They will persuade the child to send images or videos that will later be used as blackmail.
Facebook claims that moving toward complete end-to-end encryption is for the purpose of protecting their users’ privacy. Learn the dangers of disappearing messages and what it means for you and your child.
Did you hear about the recent data breach on Facebook? Over 533 million Facebook users had their data leaked. To see if you were affected, you can check this website and enter the email you use to log in to Facebook: Haveibeenpwned.com.
Have you ever taken away your child’s cell phone, tablet, etc., and wondered how they were accessing the Internet? Parents have come to us after their child has been sending nude images or inappropriate text messages and wondered how their child could have done this after they have already taken away their electronic devices? Could these images have been taken beforehand? Could it be fraud? Well, you know that old iPhone 7 you put in your junk drawer when you upgraded phones?
The Safe Surfin’ Foundation and Moose International provided McDowell Middle School with 675 webcam covers. These webcam covers will be used to cover the built-in cameras on school-issued laptops.
Buddy and Brenda working the Safe Surfin’ booth at the Florida Moose Association mid-year conference.
Predators are continually using unique and clever tactics to get in touch with children. Safe Surfin’ recently shared a case that took place in Virginia about a man who was posing as a teenager online. He was creating relationships with young teens, ultimately convincing them to take inappropriate pictures and videos of themselves. Sadly, this went on for several years until he was caught. Like this man, predators are communicating with each other to become better at acting like kids to easier find their victim’s vulnerabilities in order to create trust with them online.
It’s the first week of our digital detox challenge! Families and children are participating in this challenge to unplug. Especially now during the pandemic, we all spend too much time on our phones, playing video games, watching TV, online learning, etc. This challenge was designed to allow families to create more time together. Kids are reading books, building living room forts, going outside, and communicating with their parents.
Safe Surfin’s Moe McClanahan had the honor of talking on the CatFish Cops 5.0 podcast this week about a case she did when she was an investigator. This case was about a youth pastor that was charged with several online sex crimes against children. You can listen to the full podcast here.
She was asked the question, “What are your top two internet safety tips?” Here are Moe’s top two internet safety tips that parents can implement today!
As an investigator of internet crimes against children, I have been using TikTok and researching it for over two years. When TikTok initially came out, there were no safety concerns with the app. My friends started asking me if there was anything dangerous about the app beyond their children using it. After doing some research, I found reports that there were issues due to their collection of data from the Chinese app. I later found out this was merely a distraction from the international trade issues.
I know what you’re thinking. What is a “digital detox” (or electronics detox) and why is it important? Research has shown that an excessive amount of screen time for kids can lead to an increase in stress, anxiety, and a lack of coping skills. Just like any addiction, it takes needing assistance from someone else to help acknowledge it and break the addiction. Safe Surfin’ wants to encourage you to speak to your kids about your concerns for their overall well-being with all of their screen time and put into action an electronics detox.
Investigator Moe McClanahan has a few recommendations for what age your child should have a cell phone and rules to implement when that time comes. Simply put, nobody under the age of 13 should have a smartphone.
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act states, “This Act protects children’s privacy by giving parents tools to control what information is collected from their children online. The Act requires the Commission to promulgate regulations requiring operators of commercial websites and online services directed to children under 13 or knowingly collecting personal information from children under 13.
Is your child ready to have a school-issued Chromebook? As a parent, are you feeling anxious or overwhelmed about your child having a school-issued Chromebook? I’m right there with you.
While our kids are excited to have their own Chromebook, there are many hesitations you should have before allowing your child full access to the internet. As an investigator, I am here to make you aware of some dangers of school-issued Chromebooks and give you a few tips to keep your children safe online.
The Carly Ryan Case
15-year-old Carly Ryan believed she was talking to an 18-year-old musician named Brandon Kane. They had met online and they had continued an 18-month relationship of online contact and phone calls. Carly thought she had met her dream boyfriend.
Brandon Kane was actually a 50-year-old predator, Gary Newman. He had spent 18 months winning over Carly. They eventually met in 2007 at a secluded beach in Port Elliott, South Australia where he murdered her. He was found 11 days later in Victoria. Police found him at his computer, logged in as Brandon Kane talking with a 14-year old girl. He was arrested and charged with Carly’s murder.
What is Discord?
If your kids are playing video games, they are likely using Discord to communicate with their friends. While gaming is the most popular category for Discord users, you do not have to be on video games to use this app.
According to discord.com, Discord is a “voice, video, and text communication service used by over a hundred million people to hang out and talk with their friends and communities.” You can share images, videos, and GIFs on Discord, as well as direct messages and video chat. Discord requires users to be at least 13 years old, however, like most social media platforms, there is no verification.
Ken Brooks is the Executive Vice President and COO of NW3C, Inc. d/b/a the National White Collar Crime Center. Ken works alongside the President and CEO overseeing daily operations in both administrative as well as programmatic initiatives. He joined NW3C in 1999 and has served as Special Projects Coordinator, Associate Deputy Director of Operations and Deputy Director of Investigative Support. Before joining NW3C, Ken had a 20-year law enforcement career with the Henrico County Police Department in Virginia. After academy graduation, he performed assignments ranging from uniform operations to investigations.
The Safe Surfin’ Foundation, (SSF), a global not-for-profit, dedicated to the awareness and education of children, parents and teachers on the dangers and realities of internet predators, today announced its agreement to join the Girl Scout Nation’s Capital Program Partners.
As part of the Girl Scout Nation’s Capital Program Partners, the Safe Surfin’ Foundation’s mission and program will be shared with Girl Scout leaders around the globe. In addition, a Girl Scout Badge for Cyber S.W.A.T.™, (Safety While Accessing Technology), will now be part of the Girl Scout Badge Program.
Don’t worry we are still based out of Virginia ❤️ and service the world with education for both parents/guardians and children!!
Once COVID lifts it’s many restrictions we will be available for in person presentations on internet safety. Until then you can contact us for a virtual presentation!!
If you are in the Floyd, VA area stop by and say Hi at 105 East Main St.!!
Chris Mabry and his Team at Lynchburg Nissan continue to support the efforts of the Safe Surifn’ Foundation in keeping children safe from online predators.
They have certainly outdone their selves this year with the donation of a 2020 NISSAN Titan pick-up truck, fully wrapped by the talented folks at McBride Sign Company, also in Lynchburg.