First no one should be surprised by this headline; it’s the day and age we live in and there is a certain amount of pseudo anonymity online making some believe they are safe to act however they please.
For instance you find all sorts of things online that only the lowest of the low would spew in real life to a total stranger:
What a charming person he / she must be. And that was the cleanest example I could find in the 5 minutes I went looking; it actually took me 5 minutes to find something clean enough to post.
On the Internet (with pseudo anonymity) someone finds a FB page, a G+ page, or website that they disagree with, at that point some people feel free to get on their profanity laced soap box and hurl the nastiest thing that comes to mind. On the other hand, in the real world most people just think that nasty thing, let it go and walk away.
The Internet is a beast all it’s own, and parents need to learn it’s not a safe place to set their kids loose by themselves, but sadly for kids many parents are even more naive than they are about what is lurking on the Net.
Back to the story of the 10 year old girl, which comes from Opposing Views. This girl was contacted by pedophiles on her iPad which her parents had provided her to help with school work. “According to the Daily Mail, the incident began when a man contacted the girl on Snapchat.”
Let’s just pause here for a moment…from Opposing View, the parents said that while “they knew their daughter was using apps, they had taken ‘all sensible child safety measures that all sensible parents do.'” I will have to disagree with them on that one.
First of all Snapchat’s own Terms of Service, had they read them, would have made it clear that their daughter should not have been on Snapchat’s site or had an account. “Snapchat is intended for people who are at least 13 years old. Persons under the age of 13 are prohibited from creating Snapchat accounts.” Which per the pseudo anonymity previously mentioned I’m sure this young lady told Snapchat that she was at least 13 in order to create said account.
Second the intention of Snapchat is to be temporary, “Friends can view Snaps for up to 10 seconds, and then it disappears from the screen – unless they decide to keep it, such as with a screenshot or separate camera.” Their service is intentionally deceptive, in more than one way. It’s got a false sense of security that that half naked picture the kid took and sent is being deleted in 10 seconds and that pedophile believes they is hard to trace after they send their messages / pictures.
Nothing good can come from this service, but these parents took “all sensible child safety measures…”
So back to what happened to this girl after her first contact. The man who first made contact started the conversation off “normally”, not sure there is a “normal” between an adult and a 10 year old girl on the Internet, but I digress. Soon enough he began sending her sexually explicit messages. Whether at this point the girl brought this is her parents attention or not is not mentioned in the article, but as they were using “all sensible child safety measures” they were checking with her on her online activity, right???
The girl’s father said that more men began to contact her and the girl informed them she was underage, according to her father that “only encouraged them.” Anyone surprised by this development?!? If you answered yes, get off the Internet now and never return.
Her father went on to say that, “In one case they begged her to undress. When she refused he said ‘Your parents won’t come into your room in the time it will take to get out of your pajamas.'” Another man is reported to have offered the child money for her to travel to meet him.
The authorities believe the original pedophile went on to send her contact information onto 15 other pedophiles.
This girl’s parents were naive and it the outcome could have been a great deal worse. Take real steps towards protecting your kids online, that does include regularly checking up on their online activity, removing / blocking any inappropriate apps, and reading the terms of service for any app (especially social app) they want to install.
For instance how many are aware that Twitter is crawling with pornography and unlike Facebook when you see the pornography there is no button to report explicit content? Would you like to know why there is no way to report explicit content? Well the answer is right there under “Twitter Rules” in their Terms of Service: “Pornography: You may not use obscene or pornographic images in either your profile photo, header photo, or user background.” As long as you don’t post it in any of those 3 locations feel free to put as much pornography on Twitter as you like.
These two examples should have parents everywhere checking on their kids online activity and having conversations about safely using the Internet before something bad happens like the recent case of Jason Murphy in Connecticut who used the social networking site Meetme.com to lure a 13 year old girl to his home to perform sex acts on him. In case you’re wondering Meetme.com has an age requirement of the user being of legal age to form a binding contract…13 doesn’t fit that requirement…but I bet her online alter ego is at least 18.