Social Media & Online Gaming
Social media is a breeding ground for human trafficking. As you gather information from different sources it can be easy to get overwhelmed and feel hopeless. The goal of this article is to provide ways to keep yourself and/or your child safe. We walk in awareness to help prevent human trafficking and to expose the darkness so that healing and restoration can take place.
These online spaces are:
- A place where traffickers can lure people in
- groomers can meet victims
- people can become vulnerable/be exposed if they’re not careful
- Kids spend a lot of time online and it can become a coping mechanism for avoiding home life/school life and escaping their reality
- Many teens turn to social media when they are stressed, sad, or depressed.
- These platforms are addictive
More About Online Gaming
What is it?
- A cartoon video game where you build structures within the game to protect yourself and shoot other players. The goal is to be the last one standing.
- A great way for your children to play with friends.
- A fun and competitive game.
- Playing with other players outside of your friend group
- Profanity, Sexual talk, and racists comments
- Direct conversations with people you are following or following you. If your account is not private this gives other profiles access you DM you.
- Headsets are used for better sound but it can lead to more secrecy
- 13+ (so many different adults on this platform)
What is it?
- An online platform and storefront where users will go and play games.
- Roblox itself is not a game:
- you play smaller games that are created by other developers
- There is no age limit to this game
- Recommended age is 13+
- Email is not needed to sign up, kids are able to do it easily
- Playing with thousands of people with direct communication
- Games are created by all users
- You are able to make 200 games but these games have to make it public so other player can play these games
- There are sexual games (strip clubs, seeing other avatars naked) and abusive games
- Know what games your child is playing and join so that you can have conversations with them about it
- Have children play games in open spaces rather than in private rooms, it helps to stop secrecy
- Be aware of what products need to be purchased compared to what is free so that you know if there are any financial trades going on.
- Be aware of others buying game products for your kids (they do it to build trust)
- Can turn into asking for inappropriate photos in exchange for those gifts
More About Social Media
What is it?
- Like facebook but made for teens and young adults
- A social network where you can upload photos and videos, and talk to people through direct messaging
- Having conversations with unknown people
- Accessing inappropriate content from others users (sexual/explicit content)
- Anyone can see and follow your profile unless you make it private, and in turn message you freely
- Teenagers (specifically) try whatever it takes to get noticed by people
- There can be competition in how many likes you get on images/videos
- Disappearing messages: once they’ve been read they disappear
- Geo Tagging (Writing the location where you are at, shows habit and routine)
- Showing what you do on a day to day basis should never be posted
- NSPCC – Instagram
- Disable direct messaging
- Make sure their profile is set to private and posts can only be seen by their followers
- Sensitive control content: Instagram’s Help Page
- Hide comments
- See how much screen time your child is on
What is it?
- A digital music streaming service, where you can also watch and listen to podcasts and have access to millions of songs and other content from creators all over the world
- People upload pornographic content.
- “Audio porn”, “sexual sounds” and narrating
- “Explicit Sexual cover photos”
- Read: Spotify’s Explicit Content Explanation
- Explicit content: Any songs that are explicit will have a “E” beside the song title
- Filter Explicit: When the explicit content is switched off this means that anything that is explicit gets grayed out and you are unable to play songs that are explicit.
- You can find find songs that are explicit and see if there are clean versions of that
- Family sharing; this allows you to block anything that has the explicit tag
What is it?
- Video content produced by any user
- Anyone can add you as a friend and then send you messages
- Can easily come across explicit content
- Anyone can comment on your videos if you have a public account
- Make sure profiles are private
- Don’t accept messages from people you don’t know
- Restricted mode: this limits the profiles that are not suitable for your teens, this will also restrict from following live feeds and sending gifts to the creator of the live
- Filter Video content: allows you to filter out what you are watching on, “For You” or “Following” accounts
- Family Pairing: Parents can link their account to their child which allows the parent to set up certain features (daily screen time, direct Messing, etc.)
- Read: TikTok User Safety for more information.
What is it?
- Instant messaging app
- Inappropriate / harmful content
- Location sharing (snap maps shares your location with other users on the app)
- Unwanted contact (you can have contact with/from other users, including adults, and you can add people you don’t know)
- Messages typically disappear after a short period of time and this can lead to children sharing something that is vulnerable
- These can be screen shotted by someone else
- Streaks – wanting to have a high streak record so there can be a pressure to chat or share
- Family Center:
- Allows you to have an overview of what you child is doing and can be linked to your child’s account
- Can see a list of their friends and who they’ve contacted in the last 7 days
- “Ghost Mode”, makes sure that others can’t see your child’s location
- Default chat functions: they can talk to people on snapchat unless they have accepted them as a friend
From the National Center on Sexual Exploitation:
- The Dirty Dozen List: “Twelve mainstream entities for facilitating, enabling, and even profiting from sexual abuse and exploitation.”
- Snapchat: “How to Use the New Snapchat Family Center Controls.”
- Instagram: “Instagram Alert! Are Sex Traffickers Targeting Your Kids?”
- Human Trafficking Hotline Number: 888-373-7888
The Bottom Line:
- Be aware of who you’re talking to, people pose as others all the time
- Don’t respond if someone asks for inappropriate content/photos or something that could make you vulnerable. Many times it doesn’t stop there, they ask for more or they use it for extortion. You never know what that individual does with your pictures.
- Decide what age it’s appropriate for your child to use social media and be on online gaming
- Be in conversation with your child/teenager about potential dangers and encourage them in other activities outside of social media/online gaming.
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