Predators Using Social Media to Stalk Kids

Monday, May 23, 2011

Robert Siciliano

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All the advice one hears when told how to keep your kids safe on the internet from your home computer goes out the window when a mobile phone and other portable devices are introduced into the child’s life.

The sage advice was to put a PC in the living room and monitor your kids activity.

Today that becomes impossible when there are tablets, iPads, mobile phones, laptops, online games and webcams. All these technologies provide new opportunities for the bad guy.

Child predators are often those who gravitate towards trusted positions in society where they have direct access to kids.

Others hang out in Internet chat rooms and slowly groom their victims. Now many of them are on hundreds of different social networks.

In 2010 the CyberTipline received more than 223,000 reports of nefarious online behavior.

“The increase in the number of reports of child pornography and online sexual solicitation of children is alarming,” said Ernie Allen, President & CEO of NCMEC. “The child pxxnography images we are receiving are becoming more violent and the victims much younger.  We are even seeing infants being sexually abused.”

With the openness of social media, predators know what a kid likes, doesn’t like, who their friends are, and often their phone numbers, where they live, go to school, sports teams they play on etc. The list goes on and on.

Many of today’s social media sites are also incorporating location based services which allow the user to broadcast their location via a Smartphone or their home.

Pictures and status updates can be tagged with relatively accurate positions giving way to much information for the criminal.

MissingKids.com suggests Allowing kids to go online without supervision or ground rules is like allowing them to explore a major metropolitan area by themselves.

The Internet, like a city, offers an enormous array of entertainment and educational resources but also presents some potential risks. Kids need help navigating this world.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing Internet Predators on Fox Boston.

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