It is impossible to keep our kids away from social media. It is now a part of our life and the leading form of communication across the world. However as a parent we have a responsibility to teach our kids how to use social media safely.
Recently one of our team was monitoring her young teenage daughters instagram account and noticed she was heavily using the stories feature.
For parent’s that don’t understand the stories feature of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat you can broadcast multiple snaps (videos and photos) taken throughout the day, complete with overlays of doodles and stickers and filters and masks. This ‘reel of snaps’ will disappear after 24 hours.
Seems innocent but our team member uncovered that a new trend was to share questions (as pictured here in this blog post) and answer them. These questions were anything from what you look like, how you feel and so much more.
So what is the concern? These story questions are a brilliant way for paedophiles to profile your child before they even make contact. If your child actively shares these questions there is so much to be learnt about your child.
Paedophiles are masters of deception and will create a profile of your child and now exactly how to build rapport with them by zoning in on common interests and grooming them by their weaknesses.
For example a child has indicated through their instastories that they are a huge fan of “Stranger Things”. The paedophile will initially engage your child also claiming to be a huge fan, therefore a common bond is formed. The same child also shares they feel “sad” or “lonely”, this gives the paedophile the edge to comfort the child and build trust. before you know it your child has a rapport with a predator and the grooming intensifies.
This is how paedophiles work online and this is how they target your children. The more your children share about themselves the more at risk they are putting themselves in.
So what can you do?
Removing social media from your child’s devices is not going to work. All that will achieve is losing any communication with you and they will sneak it behind your back and that is moving into dangerous territory!
So here is what we suggest:
Ensure your child’s account is set to the highest of privacy settings
Turn of location sharing for all social media apps
Regularly monitor their accounts
Keep the communication lines with your child open
Advise your child to only share identifying and personal information with people they know face to face, never add someone they don’t know to their account
Just like we check the locks on our doors and windows, check the security on their devices and ensure they have not been breached. This needs to be undertaken by parents on a regular basis. Be honest and explain to your child that there are predators out there and they must always exercise caution when using social media.
Thankfully in the case of our team member, her teen’s security settings were set to the highest private level so the information was only shared with her closest friends and family.
As parents being vigilant of our child’s online activities is the key to keeping them safe. At PRC we are available 24/7 via our Facebook Page to answer any questions about how these apps work and any concerns you may have. Even a question you may think is “Silly” about how to work the app is never silly to us, so never hesitate to ask. Your child’s safety is too important not to!