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. They often take advantage of the victim’s vulnerability by shaming and manipulating them to send more pictures, videos, etc. In a recent New York case, at least two students were involved in a sextortion scam. The predator used social media to coerce these children to send him sexual images and videos. He created many different fake social media accounts to befriend children, coaxing them to share personal information. The predator used this information as blackmailed to receive additional pictures, threatening to share them publicly. Read more about this case here . Sadly, this happens far too often and predators are becoming better at befriending children under fake profiles, making it more difficult for law enforcement.
What can you do as a parent to prevent sextortion? 1. Have a conversation with your children. Let them know that this happens and it is wrong. Make sure they know that online “friends” are strangers. Let them know to tell you if approached 2. Install a parental monitoring app. This is not an invasion of privacy! You, as a parent or guardian, are responsible for their safety and well-being and these apps allow you to stay in control. These apps will notify you in real-time of any inappropriate conversations or messages to your child. We recommend Bark, Net Nanny, or Life 360. Do your research to see which one fits your family’s needs.
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The mission of the Safe Surfin’ Foundation is not only to protect youth from those who would do them harm, but pro-actively educating them in the safe and responsible use of today’s ever-changing technology. Together, we’re improving and saving lives. Help us continue educating kids online by donating today.