Cyber threats to our children are probably more common than most parents believe.
In fact, most of us are ignorant of the online threats our children may be faced with.
As I researched about cyber bullying...one thing became quite clear...I did not know nearly enough. I even created a bit of a dictionary of online terms because it really was like a different language.
I will never be techie...it is not in my blood however, my Daughters are both very literate and love their tech gizmos.
Thanks to the research I have done I can talk with my girls about the various cyber threats beyond bullying and keep the door open so they can come to me if they or a friend get drawn in or "lured"
Cappers are people who "lurk" in the background in chat rooms, on instagram, kik etc ...Your child and friends do not know they are there.
They wait to screen capture the activities of the unaware. This involves taking screen shots, photos or videos shared amongst friends and then saving them to their computers, hard drives and other storage devices.
Our kids are playing in a whole new world. Remember when you played spin the bottle or "mooned" someone, played truth or dare, ever flash someone...you know just foolin around...having fun...imagine if that were caught on camera and then shared forever...
Depending on the Capper...they can then share this information, pics, video...across the net, trade them for other desireable images, or take a go at "sextortion"...which leads us to our next threat...
Once a stranger (adult, other kid whoever was lurking...in the back ground) has something embarassing on you...they attempt to get more.
Kids are susceptible to this because they fear parents might take away the techie gizmo...or there may have been peer pressure or bullying and your child is keeping the secret for a gazillion different reasons...
Then your child is manipulated into providing more and more sexually explicit acts to satisfy the sextortionist who has an unknown identity and is threatening to ruin your childs life by sharing that first probably very innocent photo...or video. It can get very ugly very quickly.
Your child could become the victim of Baiting. Baiting is a term used by pedophiles to attract kids...
Kind of like the old days when we told our kids not to take candy from strangers...now we need to tell them not to open emails from strangers. Avoid anybody online you don't know. Just because there is a picture of a cute 19 year old boy does not mean that is who is behind the screen.
Kids get lured in with the baiting...they can get caught up in what they think is an online relationship and send some fun photos...and the next thing you know you are back to sextortion.
Pedophiles are targeting at risk kids online all the time. By at risk I mean everything from children with broken homes to children with parents who do not follow their cyber activities.
Cyber Stalkers use the internet to destroy credibility, professions and families unless they are paid.
These stalkers know who you are, your family, friends, where you bank and get your morning coffee. Really, some people state all that in their facebook profile. Makes you think twice eh?
They can post photos (that might not even be you or are old from your "wild" days) and tell the world how horrible you are costing you potential jobs and relationships. I read about one lady being evicted from her church group because of "crap" a stalker made up and posted online.
Beware, if the cyber stalker can get to well respected and established adults...just guess what havoc they could reap in the life of your child.
The Cyber community or "Netizens" can be very cruel. Abuse and sabotage can be common place.
"U r a Slut"...posted on facebook for the world to see.
"Go Kill yourself "!! on Kik...and then the refrain is picked up by cyber bullies and WAM...Go kill your self from 100's or even 1000's of different people you don't even know.
Rape threats, racial slurs, taunts and un-relenting MEAN...the anonymity of the online environment allows people to say and express things they would never do face to face... For a child who goes online to socialize it can be traumatizing.
As parents all we can do is:
1) Keep the lines of communication open. Talk to your children about the potential threat. Help them understand nothing is ever private once it goes online. (even if claims or policies state it is private...a person with the right skills can find it)
2) Make sure you know how to block someone on your child and your devices.
3) Report the abuser to the moderators...they may not react quickly but they may be able to have abuser removed along with any cyber abuse as well.
4) Be aware of where your child "hangs out" online, friend them on facebook, monitor their online useage.
If your child has been sexually exploited you can visit cybertip.ca for more information and to report the abuser.
After I read about all this I had a talk with my 13 year old and she was "like, yahhh, of course...I already knew that Mom" Bright kid eh?
It is scary but the internet is also a place of tremendous learning and potential. For all the "bad guys" online there are 100's more good guys. Like you and I... ;)
More Suggested reading: