A Mother’s Experience with Online Sexual Predators, as an 11 year old girl

To protect our kids, we need to be informed!

No matter how young or old your kids are, take a few minutes to inform yourself of what is happening online to kids…

A recent online sexual predators experiment by Bark (Bark is a parental control phone monitoring app to help keep kids safer online. Bark monitors social media, text, and email on Android and iOS devices)

Click Link Below to watch “Bailey”  age 11 (who is actually 37 year old Sloane Ryan, Head of Special Projects at Bark, goes undercover online, with the help of graphic artists and special effects touch ups) opens a new account on Instagram and within minutes, she is being messaged and video-called by sexual predators.

Watch Video click below:

https://youtu.be/dbg4hNHsc_8

Can read Sloane’s personal account click below:

https://medium.com/@sloane_ryan/im-a-37-year-old-mom-i-spent-seven-days-online-as-an-11-year-old-girl-here-s-what-i-learned-9825e81c8e7d

Quick Summary:

  • Within minutes of Bailey posting her new profile with several selfies of 11 year old her, she was receiving sexual messages from men on Instagram
  • Men were video calling her
  • They were explaining to her what oral sex and sexual intercourse is
  • She was receiving sexually explicit videos from adult men
  • Men were asking for photos of her various body parts
  • Adult males were saying they wanted to have sex with her
  • Online sexual predators are entering our kids’ bedrooms through the internet

 Tips To What We Can Do to Protect Our Kids from Online Sexual Predators:

  • Use a parent monitoring app, such as Bark, which monitors kids’ social media accounts, emails and text messages.  If it detects messaging that is sexual, violent, bullying, suicidal and other severe concerns, it sends an alert to the parent with a reference for what it has found.
  • Stick to the legal age for social media accounts which is 13 years old.  This includes Tiktok, Snapchat, Instagram etc.  Kids can get around this by entering a false birthdate but this is where parents need to be on top of it, and stick to age 13yrs.  I recommend grade 8, as this online world becomes more and more dangerous.
  • Be aware many kids set up a “spam account” for Instagram etc. so that their parents think they’re following their child’s Instagram account.  Meanwhile their child has another spam account, where they post the stories and pictures that they would not want their parent to see! (Bark website can detect when a child sets up a new social media account and send the parents an alert.)
  • Tiktok is the newest social media app to gain popularity (it used to be called musical.ly, was acquired by Tiktok a couple of years ago and has since seen an huge increase in popularity).  It may appear more innocent, as it’s often used by groups of kids performing a dance or a song, but I see it as a gateway to all the other social media apps.
  • Have a close and connected relationship with each of your kids so that they can share with you what is happening online.  It’s not just girls who get targeted by online sexual predators, our boys need to be wary too! Online sexual predators can be found in other areas where kids gather online too, such as Roblox, Fortnite, Minecraft.
  • Use a site such as Common Sense Media, not just to review movies, but to review apps that your child is requesting or already has.  Many parents use this site to warn parents about negative situations their families have experienced, so it can provide beneficial forewarning.
  • Share the benefits of social media and the dark side to it. Have a close and connected relationship with each of your kids so that they can share with you what is happening online.  It’s not just girls who get targeted by online sexual predators, boys too. Share  pro-active steps to be safe online and what to do to ask for help. Make it clear to your child that you want them to come to you with any questions or worries. Let them know that they can tell you anything and you won’t get mad even if they broke a rule.
  • Use Parental Controls. Although the best way to keep a child’s online privacy safe is by teaching them how to manage this themselves, it doesn’t hurt to have their backs by using parental controls, especially when they are young. Today Android, iOS, and most web browsers offer built-in features that allow parents to monitor their children’s online activities and there are a multitude of third-party apps that do this too. But please don’t use any of these as a substitute for education and conversation!
  • Know About COPPA. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act protects kids’ personal information on websites and online services—including apps— that are directed to children under 13. COPPA requires those sites and services to notify parents and get their approval before they collect, use, or disclose a child’s personal information. However, if your nine-year old tells Instagram she’s 13 (the age requirement to use the app), she won’t be protected by this law.
  • Don’t Share Your Location. These days nearly every app automatically tracks a user’s location. It’s a good idea for children to disable this feature on the apps they use. Plus, advise them not to geo-tag their posts with their location either. Tell them: You don’t want to announce the fact that your family is vacationing in Californis while your house sits empty at home.
  • Spell out what a risky relationship is. Give examples to help your child understand what a healthy relationship looks like and when she’s in danger of being exploited. Talk about unhealthy risks, such as using drugs or sending sexy photos. Make sure she knows that being pressured to keep a relationship secret or to do something that makes her uncomfortable is a sign that she’s in a risky relationship that should be ended right away.
  • Protect Kids Online is an excellent resource for staying informed about the dangers of the online world.

Bark Suggested Resources if your child encounters an online predator:

It’s common for parents to feel guilty or blame themselves in the aftermath. But understand that you’re not at fault and you’re not alone. There are a few resources available to help both you and your child.

Should your child become a victim of grooming, you must be very careful not to confront them this will likely cause them to shut down and leave out important information about the situation. While your emotions may range from anger to sadness, try to remain calm when speaking with your child as they navigate the traumatic experience. Whether they inform you of the situation directly or you discover it yourself, you should:

  • Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or chat online at https://hotline.rainn.org/online.
  • Call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 800-4-A-CHILD (2-24453), which is available every day and around the clock.

Good luck with your parent journey and keeping your kids safe!

XO

Tabatha Marden

 

 

 

 

 

Tabatha Marden