Ever wondered how paedophiles find kids online? It’s not some obscure and intricately designed approach, instead, it’s as simple as the pictures we, their parents, post.
We all have that pic, the super-cute one of our kids in the bath, or at the beach? The one that just makes you aww with cuteness overload?
We want all our friends to see them, so we post them on Instagram or Facebook. #BikiniKids #CutenessOverload #Bathtime #NakedToddler. What we don’t realise is, it’s not just our friends who’ll be able to view them.
All predators have do is search the commonly used hashtags that parents deemed harmless and boom, lots of free images of half-naked kids to download and exploit. Not only can predators do obscene things to and with these images, but they can also use them to catfish other children.
More so, stats show that 63% of parents mention their child’s name in a minimum of one photo on their Instagram timeline, 27% of parents mention their child’s age or date of birth, and 19% put both of that information up.
In Facebook photos with children, 6.2% reference the child’s age or date of birth and 45.2% of the posts mention the child’s first name, thus allowing any viewer to establish the actual age and identity of the child.
This information may seem innocuous, but with research showing that 92% of 2-year-olds have an online presence, this is a practice we cannot afford to continue. Unless like grocery store assistants, we want to aid paedophiles who come shopping for their newest preys.
What can you do about it now?
1. Increase the privacy on your Instagram and Facebook
Doing so would reduce the number of people who can view your posts or the information you put up, on your stories or otherwise. Don’t be one of the 90% of parents who have not checked their privacy settings in the past year.
2. Edit your past posts to remove all sensitive information regarding your child(ren).
Consider removing sensitive information like their ages, where they go to school, the parks they visit etc.
3. Never tag your children’s accounts on posts about them.
Tagging your children in posts about them, especially when you have other revealing photos of them, gives online predators a direct link to your children’s accounts where they can start the online grooming process.
4. Before posting images featuring your kids, it is important to carefully consider these questions:
- Is this picture endangering in any way?
- Can it in any way be used for or seen as a sexual attraction by a paedophile?
- Does the information it shares infringe on anyone’s privacy?
- Will the photo embarrass my child at any point in the future?
5. Refrain from using geotags or hashtags
There are several hashtags, such as #PottyTraining #BikiniKids #KidsBathing etc., that make it increasingly easy for predators and those seek and peddle child pornography. If you must, use hashtags sparingly.
Geotags are equally as dangerous. Posting your child’s location like your house, the playground you frequent, or their school gives predators a way to find them. These paedophiles do not just want online photos, they often wish to lure children into offline sexual encounters or worse.
6. Ask the Child’s Parents Before You Share their Kid’s pictures.
It doesn’t matter that you’re their relative, grandparents or even the godparent of the child, it is important to never post pictures of their children – especially compromising ones – without their consent. Every parent will appreciate your asking whether they are okay with you posting it or not.
It is important to realise that in 90% of the cases, paedophiles aren’t creeps, they are normal looking people that have direct access to your children. They are your relatives, friends of the family, etc. If you suspect your child is being groomed, this article is for you.