The Online Threats to Children and How to Keep Young Children from Online Predators

For too many years, children around the world have become victimized by the predators that prowl on social media. To the outsider who is not educated on the predation that occurs on these online social media sites every day, this is not a daily issue to them; however, to children and the cultivated population this is a critical issue that requires the public’s full awareness and should be handled in an urgent matter. Government officials, the public, and the online corporations that know about the considerable number of children who are provoked by online predators need to agree with the needs for an effective solution to this online problem.

From when the internet first surfaced to now, there have been recordings of children being a part of the significant amount of the risks that sulk online. There are and have been many years of documented information of online pedophiles having this dangerous and sulking presence on social media accounts. These present and previous recordings of attackers online are known based from reports users of social media, public news sites, and even if lucky the victim themselves. Any and everybody can encounter a child that is ‘clicking’ away on social media accounts, unfortunately not everyone online is looking for an actual ‘friend’. Online predators can be described by many different definitions; for the instance of this proposal, online predators will be defined as adult online users who try to seek out vulnerable children for sexual or other forms of abusive purposes to seek pleasure (What is Online Child Predation). If this scenario of online predators is a day-to-day issue, why has there not been laws or other forms of federal judicial steps been proceeded yet?  This danger of the online child predators is growing worse today with the increase of several types of social medias surfacing online and the lack of regulations from the courts and social media corporations.

Recently there was a law revoked by the Supreme Court granting convicted sex offenders the ability to access social media accounts of their own (Wolf, 2017). The supreme courts argument regarding to this official ruling was that the North Carolina law that subjected to pedophiles not having any social media accounts was invalidation of their first amendment right (Wolf, 2017). Why is this important? This comes to show that not even the United States federal officials look at the potential dangers that are waiting online for the right child. But what the public has not picked up on, is that every time children or teenagers are; kidnapped, beaten, or sometimes never found or heard of again, government officials will give the families of these children their ‘best wishes’, ‘praying for them’, and even ‘hope’. Could the public and these victims’ families get what they are actual deserve? Some acknowledgement to how their children were abducted in the first place. Not every new friend request online has a positive outcome, sometimes that friend request can lead to some young users accepting or declining their life.

Past incidents of successful attempts of online sexual predators attacking young children have been previously publicized and shows reflection of why young children need to be protected while on their social media accounts. For a real-case example, in 2002 then 13-year old Alicia Kowzakiewicz was abducted by the online friend she had been talking to at the time and ended up being an online pedophile. Kowzakiewicz’s was brutally raped, tortured, and beaten nearly to death during the four days she was there. Now Alicia works alongside activists to pass ‘Alicia’s Law’ which helps encourage state funding to Internet Crime Against Children Task Forces (BBC, 2016). Not all stories, like Alicia’s, come with a happy ending. With recognizing and learning from Alicia’s story , there needs to be more concrete standards set by federal and state officials to protecting young children online from these perpetrators who hunt for their new target.

Officials and parents have in the past created different attempts of protection of the younger population that uses social media today. Even currently there are specific online groups and websites that convey the necessary message online which consists of getting the word out to many families about the major concerns regarding the predators that are on social media. Groups have defined “predators seek youth vulnerable to seduction, including those with histories of sexual or physical abuse, those who post sexually provocative photos/videos online, and those who talk about sex with unknown people online” (N, n.d). With being online, youths have an incredible number of online predators sitting patiently just waiting for that one child to log-on, therefore having other groups and associations based on protecting children online can implement a significant decrease in the number of children falling prey to these predators.

Social media is defined by many as having and creating personal connections without particularly being in-person socializing (Hezel, 2018). Government regulated websites have measured the approximate amount of youth internet users that receive numerous sexual solicitations online; approximately 13% of these youths experience sexual attempts from other online users. So, this concludes that there is a significant increase of potential dangers lurking online to attack child users on social media accounts, more than there are in public. With stating the facts and figures, officials need to create a new profound proposal to get around these actual dangers that are found to be online.

With this proposal of strengthening youths from online predators, parents and social media officials can potentially approach a positive outcome to this problem of sexual predators lurking on social media networks. With this new proposal, there would be several steps of conducting this potentially successful way of strengthening children’s protection online with their social media accounts. Step one would deal with parents having to set up their child’s social media accounts with their, the parents’, email address. Step two, the parents would receive a code to use for their child’s account. Step three would involve the child’s account becoming inactive until parents retype the code that they only know to active their child’s account. Throughout the time of this new online protection procedure, parents would be notified if any strange activity is or was going on with their child’s social media accounts. This process would take time, but in the end, what parent would not want to protect their children online?

Looking at who can potentially oppose my proposal of this new online safety proposal, I would have to find the teenagers of this era being my biggest opponent. In 2014 and 2015 there was a nationwide survey asked American teenagers about their access to smartphones. Significantly there was a subsequent average of teenagers, 95%, who reported to have ownership of their own smartphone or had access to one (Anderson, 2018). Consequently, to this large amount of teenage users, only 45% reported that they are online on a “near-constant basis” (Anderson, 2018). However, this nationwide survey concluded that teenagers have some mixed views on the impact that social media have on their lives. In so, teenagers who use their online accounts daily, would not want what this new proposal of online safety is propositioning to parents of these teens. Teenagers would daily fight with their parents for putting in the necessary codes for the teens to gain access to their social media accounts.

This proposal calls to action a greater amount of energy from the public, families, federal officials, and social media corporations to act toward decreasing the amount of the online population of predators and increasing the availability of protection to these children who are unaware of the potential dangers that lurk online. With knowing about stories of young children and adolescents being abducted from their families, the unsuccessful attempts groups have tried to assemble to save the children that are using social medias; this new idea could potentially have a significant effect to the decrease of online predation of children and could have parent’s minds at ease every time their child logs on to their social media accounts without them being aware of the potential dangers. Only by educating and increasing protection online can young children have more of the social experience that they wish to have online.