Video Chatting is the New Sexting

A recent study on children’s health listed sexting as #6 on the list of biggest health concerns for children in the country. Parents have taken note and jumped to educate their tweens and teens about the dangers and foolishness of sending sexually charged pictures or posting them online.

 

However, many parents don’t realize that sexting is not just pictures anymore. As video chatting has become more accessible, more teens and even tweens are using this medium for age-inappropriate communication with horrific consequences. The Amanda Todd sextortion case began in a video chat room and ended with her suicide at age 15.

 

To naive kids, video chatting seems less risky because the call ends. However, screen shot capabilities and hidden recording devices make it easy to preserve the content of any video call indefinitely.

 

While sexy video calls between teens who know each other is bad enough, a shocking number of video chat platforms offer to matchmake calls with strangers. No vetting or identification is required to join these groups; most only require a first name and an email address. Platforms like these provide anyone with an internet connection access to your child.

 

Facebook Live has only worsened the problem exponentially. Launched quietly, Facebook Live is a video chat function available to Facebook users of any age. Teens have the option to make calls to any other user (even if that user isn’t on their friends list) or live stream for as many or few viewers as they wish. Facebook even provides teens with the option to restrict their live stream viewers by gender, age, location, and language. A sexy live stream that excludes parents, grandparents, and school teachers is all but encouraged through these options.

 

What can parents do? Set a rule for your family that video chatting must take place in a public space of your home, or at least with the door open. Then, add any and all video chatting platforms to your Clean Router’s Black List. Here are a few of the most popular ones with their URLs:

 

*Facebook Live (live.facebook.com)

*SnapChat (snapchat.com)

*Google Hangouts (hangouts.google.com)

*Tango (tango.me)

*ooVoo (oovoo.com)

*Face Flow (faceflow.com)

*Video.link2.me

*Fring (fring.com)

*Chatous– specifically marketed as a “make new friends” platform! (chatous.com)

*Camfrog– specifically marketed as a “make new friends” platform! (camfrog.com)

 

You can also use the iOS parental controls function to lock any app on an iPad or iPhone, including FaceTime, SnapChat, and the others listed above. To do this:

 

  1. Open Settings
  2. Click on Restrictions (it’s under the General section)
  3. Select Enable Restrictions
  4. Set a password
  5. Toggle off any apps you don’t want your kids to use without your permission. You may also want to toggle off the Installing Apps option to prevent your kids from downloading any of the apps listed above.

 

Stay safe online this summer! To learn more about protecting your family on the internet, click here!

 

internet filter

4 Things Every Tween (And Parent) Should Know About Sextortion

Sextortion is a major online threat against tweens. For those unfamiliar with the term, sextortion is the act of  obtaining sexual content of another and threatening to share the content unless certain demands are met. The Washington Post recently published an article about how sextortion works, who is being targeted, and why governments all over the world are starting to take notice. Here are four things all tweens and all parents should know.

 

1) Tweens aren’t too young to be at risk.

Thirteen seems to be the new sixteen, with even less judgement and more insecurity. Internet predators know that kids are experiencing more pressure to be “sexy” at a younger age, and they also know that younger targets are easier to manipulate. While sextortion happens to teens and young adults, parents and kids need to realize that this is also a tween issue.

 

2) Sextortion is the new sexual predator threat.

While it can be easy to dismiss sextortion as something that happens when kids are foolish online, the reality is more sinister. The extortioners carefully pick out tweens and teens to target and manipulate. They prefer kids who post copiously on social media, especially about themselves. What may suprise some parents and tweens, though, is that they don’t necessarily go after kids who post suggestive content. In fact, their threats will be more effective against kids who don’t already portray themselves in a sexual manner online. These master manipulators know that with the right act, it’s not too hard to get a tween to trade sexuality for validation. The extortioners are sexual predators who use tweens’ insecurities, naïveté, and bad judgement, and they are very good at what they do.

 

3. Child pornography is illegal.

When so many of their peers sext, it is easy for teens and tweens to forget that producing and sharing sexual content of minors, even themselves, is against the law. It doesn’t matter if a teen snaps and sends the photo herself, she is still making child pornography. Hopefully knowing this will keep a teen or tween from any momentary lapses of judgement.

 

4. Nothing digital is ever private or gone for good.

For many of these kids, recording the sexual images is just a brief lapse of judgement. Amanda Todd, a thirteen year old victim of sextortion who committed suicide, took part in a webcam conversation that briefly turned sexual. But once a digital image is captured, it can last forever. The image can be copied, distributed, downloaded, and reposted over and over again for decades. Teens and tweens need to understand that the second something becomes digital, there is no way to safeguard it or permanently delete it.

 

For kids who think sextortion may be no big deal, watch this video here to see Amanda Todd tell her story not long before she committed suicide. The Washington Post article that features this video also discusses the growing problem of online sextortion a case of two George Mason students who were victims.

 

Your kids are good kids, but they’re just that– kids– and only a few seconds of bad judgement online can ruin their lives. That’s why Clean Router is here to help parents monitor their children’s online activity and keep them safe on the internet. Click here to learn more about how Clean Router can protect your family and provide you with online peace of mind.