The popularity of social media platforms continues to increase, especially among young people. Most teenagers have at least one profile on a site such as Facebook or Twitter where they can post messages, photos and videos to share with friends.
These platforms (as most adults already know, since we use them extensively ourselves) are a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, and can be highly entertaining and somewhat addictive.
In fact, when being perfectly honest, most people - adults and kids alike - will probably admit to spending a little too much time checking statuses and posting content on their favorite social media platforms.
But addiction to social media is just one of the dangers
associated with using them and considering some of the more serious issues, addiction to Facebook or one of the other platforms seems a minor problem in comparison.
A recent social experiment conducted by Coby Persin, a guy who normally posts pranks and humorous videos on Facebook, illustrates just how dangerous social media can be for children.
In the YouTube video which documented his experiment, Persin created a fake Facebook account in which he posed as a 15-year-old boy trying to make new friends in a city where he claimed he had just moved with his family.
With the approval and secret participation of their parents, Persin used his fake persona to contact and befriend three girls, ages 14, 13 and 12. The results of his experiment shocked the parents, and since it was posted on YouTube, the video has gone viral, with nearly 40 million views as of this writing.
The experiment detailed how frighteningly easy it was to not only fool the girls into believing that they were actually being contacted by someone near their age (who didn’t even exist), but also how, after just a few days of messaging, easy it was to talk them into meeting the “boy” face-to-face, without telling their parents that they were going to do so.
In each case, the girls agreed to a meeting. The first girl, aged 13, arranged to meet the person she had met online only a few days before, at a park near her home. She did not inform her parents of the meet-up.
The second girl targeted in the experiment, aged 12, agreed to meet the boy at her own house after her dad fell asleep.
The third girl, aged 14, agreed to let the boy pick her up in a vehicle at her home while her parents were away.
In all three cases, the girls followed through with their promises to meet the imposter - unsupervised and without the parents’ knowledge - or so the girls believed.
In each situation, the parents were in on the game, and all of them believed there was no way their daughters would actually be foolish enough to go through with the agreed-upon meeting plans, but all three girls did - to the horror and shock of the parents.
You can see the video below (it's in english only)
This simple but dramatic experiment showed just how easy it is to trick young people into engaging in almost unbelievably risky behavior through the use of social media. As the video points out, there are more than 750,000 registered child predators in the U.S. alone - and that’s just the number of those who have been caught. Of course Worldwide, the number is much higher even though statistics are harder to find.
Social media represents a very easy way for these monsters to target our children. Through the anonymity of the internet, they can pose as peers and - as the experiment proves - talk children into meeting up in person with a minimum of effort.
This is one of the main reasons parents need to monitor their children’s online activities and the only way to do so effectively is through installing monitoring software on the smartphones, tablets or computers that their children have access to.
The girls in the experiment were easily tricked, showing just how vulnerable children at that age can be. And with children being online at earlier ages than ever before, it’s not just an issue concerning teenagers. All children who carry smartphones or have access to the internet need parental supervision, and these days that includes virtually every child.
Children do need some freedom and privacy, but the dangers awaiting them in the virtual world can easily lead to very serious dangers in the “real” world. The need for supervision, in this case, outweighs the right to privacy.
Responsible parents cannot afford the risk of letting children roam freely online without some type of monitoring, and that’s why mobile monitoring apps have become so popular.
With an app such as mSpy or SpyStealth, parents can see who their kids are communicating with on social media platforms, along with what type of content and messages are being shared.
Sexual predators are probably the most dangerous threat, but certainly not the only one. Social media platforms are also where cyber-bullying, sexting and other threats commonly take place. Parents need to keep a close eye on what takes place on these platforms - as the experiment shows, there may be a lot more happening in your child’s online world than you might imagine.