The link opened up a series of shocking images showing two young children, who looked about eight years old, performing sexual acts on each other.
“It’s disgusting,” Traci-Lee Burchell told The Province. “It makes me sick to my stomach.”
Burchell regularly keeps tabs on her daughter Hailee’s social-media activity, but she never expected to find child pornography posted to the 16-year-old’s Facebook profile.
The photo appeared on Hailee’s page without her knowledge after she did something almost every other teen regularly does on social media — she “liked” a page with a picture of a cute kitten that had gone viral.
Hailee’s just one example of how efficient Internet predators are becoming at reaching children on social-media websites. Even more shocking, police say, is that predators are now going after even younger kids.
“What’s alarming to us is the ages of the children,” said Ridge Meadows RCMP Cpl. Alanna Dunlop, who said she has seen kids as young as nine or 10 on social-media sites that are at risk of being targeted.
Dunlop said the problem is widespread, with police jurisdictions across Canada working to better educate the public on how to protect kids from child predators.
Ridge Meadows RCMP are currently investigating a number of cases involving kids being targeted by child predators on websites and apps such as Skype, Kik and Instagram, Dunlop said. In some cases, she said online predators coerced children into sending nude images of themselves.
But in many other cases, young, underage girls sent nude photos of themselves to someone they’re dating in what is often called “sexting,” Dunlop said. When the relationship ends, photos often get posted on social media, she said.
Part of the problem is that kids are signing up on social-media sites at younger ages than ever before.
Vancouver social-media educator Jesse Miller said Thursday that he had just finished a speaking engagement at a school where children in Grade 3 and 4 admitted to having accounts on the photo-messaging app Snapchat. The minimum age to join Snapchat is 13.
But since there’s no age verification, anyone can sign up, he said.
Miller said he expects to see kids using social media at even younger ages, where they will increasingly be put at risk of child predators.
Dunlop urged parents to have access to their children’s social-media accounts, which she said should always be set to private.
She said parents should also ensure their kids don’t accept friend requests from people they don’t know personally, and that they don’t use messenger apps like Kik that lack privacy settings.
For mom Burchell, open communication and vigilant monitoring is key to trying to keep her daughter safe.
A few social media sites where your children may have accounts:
- Facebook: social utility that allows people to connect with friends and others online;
- Twitter: account holders can follow other users and share their thoughts, links and photos in 140 characters or less;
- Instagram: a photo-sharing site;
- Tumblr: a blogging platform that allows users to post text, photos, quotes, music and videos;
- YouTube: site where users can post original videos and comment on those posted by others;
- Google+: social networking site;
- Pinterest: A content-sharing service that allows members to “pin” images and videos to their pinboards;
- Snapchat: real-time photo messaging app;
- Vine: allows users to create and share short videos;
- Kik: smartphone messenger app that allows sharing of text, photos, video and more;
- Pheed: iPhone social app that allows users to share text, photo, audio, video and live broadcasts;
- Reddit: an online community where users share and vote on content, promoting stories to the site’s front page;
- Whatsapp: smartphone messenger app where users can create groups and share text, image, video and audio messages.
This article was originally posted on June 7th in the Province Newspaper. Read more HERE
Join us on June 13th, for and evening of Cyber Safety for our Beans and Tweens with special guest Jesse Miller, hosted by Peekaboo Beans. We invite you attend this insightful and informative seminar and learn how to teach your children the guidelines and importance for safe and responsible social media use.
Purchase tickets HERE on-line or RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot and pay for your ticket at the door. Did we mention we will have snacks and bevies??
And we are excited to support our friends at Playground Builders by donating all proceeds from this event to their amazing organization!