Shocking News! Paedophiles are using social media to target children

Shocking News! Paedophiles are using social media to target children

Children are being targeted using social media hashtags. Parents need to adopt methods that can protect their kids on the digital space.

Over-sharing has become a worrying trend among parents. Most parents use social media as a kind family archive where they can freely share news and pictures of their children, disregarding the fact that it is not always safe. This is especially in the case of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook where at the end of each post you can include a hashtag that makes it easier to locate the post. This would've have been harmless if not for the fact that paedophiles are using social media hashtags to target children.

According to one estimate, parents are likely to share more than 1,500 photos of their child online before they turn five. Consequently, experts warn that parents should stop using these common hashtags because it makes their children an easy target for paedophiles. 

Here at Africaparents, we've talked about some of the dangers of sharenting, which is a method of parenting in which a parent over-share details about their children on social media. The article points to fraudsters and a few other reasons why parents should not overshare. Paedophiles didn't make the list. But in recent evidence, the hashtag has shown itself to be a means by which paedophiles can easily target your kids. 

Paedophiles are using Social Media Hashtags To Target Children: time to stop with the hashtags? 

The internet is a very scary and small place. Ordinarily, a stranger can find you with a few clicks, sometimes with more than a few. But what a hashtag does is that it helps narrow a predator's search, making it easy to find the target. And what's worse is that most parents don't stop at a one name hashtag, they use the child's complete name. You might see a hashtag like #GeorgeFavorEmmanuel. In this era of clicks, that's like putting a target on your child's back. 

The picture you post may look normal to you, sweet to your decent friends on social media. But this is not so with a predator. And it certainly doesn't have to take semi-nude pictures to get them to develop a “crush.”

In 2016, explicit photos of local school girls made the rounds among users of an Australian website that immediately saturated the new circle. Other sources were even asking users if they could find more photos for certain payment. At that point, as there images circulated without their consent, those girls became targets for those degenerates. 

And in cases like the aforementioned, it is difficult for police to track the culprit because they are good at covering their tracks. Technology has its upside and downside. 

 

How Can I Protect My Child From Paedophiles On Social Media?

How Can I Protect My Child From Paedophiles On Social Media?

Often, social media users convince themselves that they are very careful about people they accept on their friend list. So they feel they can go ahead and share their children's pictures. But on most of these social media apps, one doesn't necessarily need to be your friend to view your timeline. Unless you are utilizing your privacy settings. Here are a few questions that will guide you when you want to post your child's picture. 

 

  • Why are you sharing it?  
  • Ask yourself if you're the one in the image would you be comfortable with someone else sharing it. 
  • Are you comfortable with this being a part of your child's digital identity and footprint.
  • Do you feel that the image can be manipulated?
  • Ask yourself if you'd want your child's picture to be downloaded by online predators. 

It's important to fight the compulsion of oversharing. And if you have to share, make sure your privacy settings are airtight. This way you have a say in who sees what you post. 

Read also: Are You Sharenting?: A dangerous Parenting trend

 

Written by

Lydia Ume