Parenting is hard. Be kind to yourself.
Here’s the bad news –
Sexual predators, online scam artists, traffickers are equal-opportunity. It makes no difference where you live, how much money you have, which schools your child attends, or how innocent you believe your children to be. A predator’s goal is to successfully reach the easiest targets. Our job is to make their access as difficult as possible.
Here’s the good news –
There is a TON that parents, kids, schools, and communities can do to significantly decrease the likelihood of being targeted on digital platforms. Even small changes to the how/where/when you and your children use digital tools can make a very large impact on your overall safety. (Remember – this includes Mom and Dad making changes.)
IMPORTANT: Making changes to digital habits INCLUDES Mom and Dad. If you’re constantly projectile vomiting your ‘humble brags’ about your child, your stuff, and your life on an open forum – it might not end well. Plus nobody cares. Oh, and, stop posting about your kids on *your* social media without asking them first – they hate that. And they’re right.
Resources for Parents
Share This with your Kids: signs that Your online “friend” is probably a predator (aka creepy guy in the basement)
- The person uses dating language almost immediately – even with very young elementary aged kids.
Wants to take you out, fantasies about taking “you away”
Compliments begin right away – the predator has never met anyone as: cool, amazing, pretty, artistic, athletic as you
- Wants to move the conversation OFF the original social media or gaming platform to SMS, WhatsApp, Discord, Telegram etc. Also has the added benefit of separating you from your friends and usual community
Anyone who wants to separate you from people who love you – doesn’t care about you.
- You’ve never met this person IRL
Which means that you literally have no idea what the truth is.
It could be a man pretending to be a woman, a woman pretending to be a man, a grown-up pretending to be a kid, a kid pretending to be a grown-up. You have no idea.
- Tries to scare or force you to do things that you feel uncomfortable with – or know your parents wouldn’t like
Sends you inappropriate links via DM or Chat
Offers to send you gifts – money, gift cards, etc – and tells you to lie to your parents about their source
Tells you to do what he/she says “or else”
- During videochats/facetime predator’s face is partially shielded from the camera- covers face with hair or hoodie and always has an excuse for why they can’t get on camera
ie claims that he/she has a scar they’re embarrassed by or some other reason can’t show face
background of their room is dark and can’t be completely seen
looks older than originally claimed
TIP: Focus on the person’s hands (hands don’t shield age well)
- SUPER IMPORTANT – none of these things are *your fault*. You didn’t ask for anyone to be inappropriate with you, you didn’t do anything to ‘deserve’ being treated this way, you’re not stupid for falling for the lie. You’re the victim. These people are professional scam artists and they know exactly what to do and say.
Prevention Tips – for Parents
- No phones under 13yo
- No social media under 13yo – COPPA federal guideline – Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act – says that children under 13yo are not allowed to have any social media accounts.
- Physically take phones and tablets away at night. Impact of reducing the amount of time your child spends on devices…Improves mental health outcomes. Studies show higher device time equals higher rates of depression, anxiety – etc. Particularly true of social media use. NOTE: Gaming is infinitely better for your child than social media.Forcing child to focus on in-person pursuits – reduces likelihood that child will become dependent on an online predator. This is especially true for children who feel marginalized – ie don’t have a ‘posse’ at school, feel unaccepted for whatever reason.
- Parents, put YOUR phone down, and spend more time with your kids. Your children want to spend more time with you.
Practice what you preach. If you want children to listen to you when you’re talking, then put YOUR phone down and listen to them. They’re trying to talk to you.
- Have real conversations with your children. This generation has more pressure (emotional, academic, sexual, financial) than any generation in history. They’re trying to navigate and survive issues that we never had as kids. Talking to them as though they’re infants – isn’t going to help.These sex-related conversations are difficult to have at first. But if you do it constantly it will lose its sting. And your children are going to be way more likely to come to you for help when the time comes.
- Data privacy
DO NOT post about your children on YOUR social media without your child’s permission. You may be embarrassing them publicly.Videos and photos of your young children seem harmless and adorable to you – pedophiles see your children as sexual objects. Set all sm accounts to PRIVATE. Do not share content with the public. You’re making it easier for your children to be targeted. Plus, nobody cares what you had for dinner. None of us are that important – get over yourself.
- Logistical Tools for Parents
Make sure school has a ‘white-list’ of who can pick up your child at school without your permission
Use mobile carrier tools to review which phone numbers are communicating with your child most often. Set up alerts
To learn more about the impact of devices on mental health:
- Listen to Season 1: Episode 7 Kids, Mental Health, & Devices : increased device time equals diminished mental health
- Download the cheat sheet
- Jean Twenge website
- Monitoring the Future Survey – website
- The UnLonely Project – website
Did you know the new age of onset of pornography consumption is EIGHT years old?
(FANS ONLY EPISODE) Listen to Season 01: Episode 03: Young kids are sexting and watching porn aka: Don’t dress up like a seal if you’re going surfing
Non-Fans – here is a summary of tips. Questions to ask yourself and your child….
□ Does your child have a smartphone? Was it given under 13?
□ Does your child have social media? Were the accounts created under 13?
□ Does your child have SC or TT
□ Have you gone through your child’s list of FOLLOWERS?
□ Do you personally know all of the FOLLOWERS? (Any followers you don’t know, need to go)
□ Are all of your child’s SM accounts set to private?
□ Does your child have multiple IG accounts?
□ Get a list of all your child’s social media logins and passwords. You should be able to login at any moment of
your choosing. If your child changes the password without telling you– they lose the phone
□ Have THE TALK with your child about sexting, sexual predation, etc and when you’re done – have the
conversation again. Wash. Rinse Repeat.
Resources for Schools
School administrators and educators should listen to the following episodes:
- Season 1: Episode 5 Part One: When Schools Overshare – COPPA Law and Your Child’s Privacy
- Season 1: Episode 6: Part Two: When Schools Overshare – A Principal’s Perspective
- COPPA Law – learn more about the FTC’s COPPA law here
- CIPA Law – learn more about the FCC’s CIPA law here. To learn more about this Internet Safety Podcast, internet safety and parenting, and more, go to the START HERE document where you can watch videos, download school resources, parent resources, and more.To learn more about joining the Big Mama’s House Fan Club go to www.Patreon.com/BigMamasHouse