New technology is a wonderful tool for entertainment, communication, information, learning. Nevertheless, for the youngest users who are not necessarily aware of traps and tricks, it may be dangerous as they are vulnerable when facing ill-intentioned manipulating adults.

According to a Europol report published March 27 2020, the lockdown time has increased the underaged cyber exploitation risks as well as exchanges of material between child criminals. For more information, please read the report on cyber criminality during the pandemics. As a parent you can mention the following dangers according to your children’s ages to start a discussion because informed children are better protected.

AirDrop: Photos and wireless videos sharing technology for I-Phone owners facilitate document sharing. Should they use this feature, make sure the set ups are well defined (for instance: restricted to actual contacts, not to all) to avoid receiving unsolicited violent or obscene files from unknown individuals who simultaneously activated Airdrop nearby.

Cyberharassment: repeatedly aggressive actions via electronic communication devices (applications, social media, hacking, chats, forums, instant message apps) This can come in the shape of intimidation, insults, taunts or threats, rumor spreading, account hacking, digital impersonation, creation of a group or publications of humiliating photos or videos of the victim. Cyberharassment may be sexual (see hereunder “fisha”, “revenge porn”, “sextortion” …)

Dedipix: signing practice on someone’s body (first name of a sweetheart for example) the photo then gets posted on a blog or social media. The aim is to receive a maximum of “likes” or comments – which is very efficient, the more intimate/bare the part of the body is!

Challenges: whereas teenage is a risk-taking time – beware of videos, groups and online blogs encouraging teenagers to hazardous behavior, whether physical exploits, food diets/binge drinking, incriminating selfies or even challenges tending gradually to committing suicide (for instance Necknomination, Blue Whale Challenge).

Exposure to shocking contents: children may be exposed to shocking/violent/frightening/sexually oriented contents, especially on youth channels. Your child should be made aware that it is really important for her/him to speak to you when seeing pictures that have frightened, wounded or put her/him in discomfort.

Fake news: these are untrue or tricked pieces of information, voluntarily relayed on social media and by some social media to manipulate public opinion. Here are a few questions designed to arouse your teenager’s critical mind.

Fisha: a cyberharassment practice, steadily increasing since lockdown, where individuals create Snapchat accounts or use encrypted messaging like Telegram to spread intimate girls’ contents (often aged between 14 and 17) without their consent.

Authors ask their contacts to send sexual photos of their ex-sweethearts (“revenge porn”) or of any other girl they know of to [post them as “pushover girls”]

These accounts are organized by town or department and also reveal personal information on the victims (identity, address…); The followers then harass collectively the victims: sexual demands, threats, blackmailing, incitement to prostitution…

Grooming: a child abuse criminal’s approach technique to win children’s trust. They approach their victims through online games (Fortnite, Clash of clans, M ionocraft….) allowing for messaging between unknown gamers and entailing public chats or via social media (especially Tik Tok, YouTube and Instagram).

They can impersonate several individuals or act with accomplices to gather information on the child: her/his areas of interest, personality, vulnerability, family situation etc. and create the perfect friend’s profile. They then communicate intensely with the child, at the beginning allegedly innocently – compensating for the child’s emotional needs (wanting an older brother or sister, a friend, a sweetheart…) then gradually sexualize the exchanges to obtain pictures or videos then blackmail or organize a physical encounter and sexually assault the child.

Nude: photos of bare/intimate part of body, sexual or not, taken by the teenagers themselves (mainly by teenage girls) and published on social media or sent to their sweetheart.

Online Prostitution: online prostitution of underaged, namely on Internet has increased for several years. It can come from pimps’ emotional manipulations, showing a false loving interest to their victims, the latter accepting to become prostitutes in the name of their love for the pimps. Some resort to blackmailing: starting the minute the victim sends the first incriminating picture, the predator can force the victim to commit more and more degrading acts then accept paid rapes, by threatening to spread this picture. Finally – underaged can commit acts on demand, alone in front of their webcam for customers in virtual rooms – this is called ”camgirls”. 

Radicalization: one more threat on Internet and social media comes from extremists seeking to recruit new preys to indoctrinate on the path to hatred and violence.

Revenge porn: unconsented broadcast of sexual pictures or videos of someone by her partner or another rejected pretender for revenge. These contents may have been voluntarily created within their relationship or filmed unknown by the victim.

Sexting (among teenagers): sexually explicit words, pictures and contents self-produced by consenting teenagers. Teenagers’ practice evolved with the expanding new technologies; they now can send, receive and at a younger and younger age share sexually intended pictures and messages within their love and social relationship. They can believe this to be harmless but it is of paramount importance to remind them that once these pictures of themselves displayed, they don’t have the control anymore, this forever.

They must be made aware of potential dangers: become the object of blackmailing, harassment, sexual constraint and extortion, solicitations or any other form of manipulation. In the frame of seduction between pairs to minimize the danger, it is better to only show a little part of their body or their face but never both, for instance: so they cannot be identifiable.

Sexting (child/adult): child criminals’ techniques – like using online talks to gradually draw children into participating in sexual activities via webcam or exchange SMS or online sexual discussions – are even more dangerous. Thereafter the predators will use anything to keep control on the children by threatening to send obtained elements to friends and family if the victims don’t accept to do anything they demand. 

Sextortion: online sexual exploitation of children combining sexual constraint and extortion. Cybercriminals seek to obtain the children’s and teenagers’ contents –(“sexting”) in order to obtain even more sexual material, extort money or organize a physical meeting in real life.

Teenagers’ Dating Sites et Applications: some so-called teenagers or trendy social media to their age rank (Tik Tok, Teenagers Dating, Nodaron, Yubo…). If the youngest may seek friendly or love meetings these are also child criminals’ dens to track children going unpunished.

It is important for your teenager to be made aware of the danger enticed in registering with this type of platform and to be confident in talking it through with you and ask for help in case of unproper behavior or ill-intended act. For more information and approach the subject with your teenager please watch this video by the “King of rats” youtuber – the dark side of teenagers dating sites.