It isn’t anything new. Abusers find their way into any cracked door. Bur internet apps are wide open doors for them. Cybersafety experts warn parents to check and constantly survey all apps their children use, especially the ones that replaced communication in the last decade.
MeetMe, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Skout, TikTok, Badoo, Bumble, Grindr, Kik, LiveMe, Holla, Whisper, ASKfm, Hot or not, Calculator, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are the new source of danger for children and teenagers. They can end up talking to the wrong kind of people. And this could be the least it could happen. Teenagers especially.
Teenagers are exposed to the danger they are attracted to. They need to know and understand the world they live in, and they consider themselves adults. They resent feeling supervised and dependent on their parents’ approval. Parental control is their real enemy, not the bullies and sexual predators they might encounter on social media. They don’t have an accurate perception of evil.
Humans understand the difference between good and bad through experience. Sexual abuse is just a formal concept of what is bad. The emotional perception of what it means needs time and experience.
What can parents do?
Education is experience. And it is the parents’ job to initiate their children into the dark face of the world their children live.
Parents tend to overprotect their children and not let them know about the ugly face of the world. Violence, death, crime, rape, emotional abuse are all things parents avoid and always postpone talking about during education. And this is one of the reasons that makes teenagers frail. They don’t know.
They need their own protective mechanisms, but they can get it only if they know and understand what they need to protect themselves against. Not giving them the phone or putting interdictions are not solutions. Their propensity will be to escape limitations because they need to grow up.
Communicating with them, letting them know about the real dangers their actions could lead to, those are protective diligences, making them trust you as a parent, that you will protect them and not judge and punish. This might even make the teenager not be needing those communication apps so much.