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.