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“Sextortion” adds a new threat for your kids

by Neal O'Farrell on August 30th, 2010

I recently read a report that that digital camera will soon be a thing of the past, because soon a camera will be a standard feature in most cell phones – if we’re not already there.

And while that’s great news for people who like the convenience of always having a camera in their pocket, it doesn’t come without risks. And one of the growing risks your kids may face is what’s being dubbed by the media as “sextortion.”

Kids will often do risky things with their phones (like texting while driving), and when you add a camera to the mix kids may be tempted to go one step further and use that camera to snap and share inappropriate photos of themselves.

Online predators are only waiting to take advantage of that, and friends, acquaintances, and even complete strangers are using compromising photos of teens to bully them into sharing even more explicit images. Or in some cases, blackmailing them into performing sex acts – all under that threat that if they don’t, the predator will tell their parents or publish the photos.

In a recent case, an 18-year-old man was sentenced to fifteen years in prison after posing as a girl on Facebook, encouraging other young men to send him compromising photos of themselves, and then blackmailing them into having sex with him.

And while many kids think that social networking sites like Facebook might be a safe place to store and share these images with a small circle of friends, hackers can still get access to these images and use them to cajole or threaten kids into doing things they shouldn’t.

Lessons learned?

• The best way to address all the online threats that face your kids is to talk to them – honestly, open, and often. In the end, the best defense is your child’s own judgment.

Teens and Sextortion: Young Girls Blackmailed into Porn

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