Parents: Is your Teen Catfishing for Sex?
The Internet and Social Media opens many doors that access information potentially beneficial to teens academically, professionally, networking and build communities that are like extended families. Parents should be reminded that Social Media is just that, a social extension of life. Parents should be reminded that teens are exposed to sexual distractions to have sex, even without the Internet. Teens do have sexual relationships and parents need to talk to their children about the dangers of unprotected sex, multiple partners, oral and anal sex.
As an educator, presenter and speaker about Social Media I urge parents to talk to their children about Catfishing and stories of online stalking, predators and dangers. A Florida sex sting captured over fifty men as sexual predators. They targeted children in online Social sites and from online gaming sites. Using Catfishing and posed as teens but they were teachers, businessmen, students and tourists ranging in age from 19 to 60.
Available online are access to teens for hookups in school, at the movies, in church and other social hangouts. The term Catfish(ing)” uses Social Media in a dangerous way that allows teens to have digital “Booty Calls” and "Meetups." Parents need to learn the terminology that their children use, be aware, prepared and realistic. The social connections not only happen through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, the ability to connect is also through Xbox Live, Wii and other gaming systems.
Teens seem to be just playing video games, but some teens are experts at “gaming” and “hooking up.” The process starts by chatting and playing video games with people never met in person only in a digital world where anything can happen. Social interaction, real names are not even used, but bonds develop, friendships form and teens connect without knowing exactly who they are talking to. The next stage is real names are shared, phone numbers are shared then schools, locations and the bait is set.
Teens get comfortable and their guard is let down. Then the romance is started: Parent should be familiar with the process, they need to investigate, ask questions and even spy if necessary to make sure their teens are safe and if they are the predator searching for online sexual relationships. If there are concerns parents trust your instincts and take appropriate action.
“Catfish(ing)” is an expression: the act of deceiving someone.
A Catfish is someone who creates a fake online identity (persona) to meet others through social networks and the gaming world online. The ease of making a false person is so easy students in elementary schools are doing it. It is not just in Facebook, but can be found on Meetme, Skout and social sites through gaming consoles. Even though many people put a picture as their online identity this can so easily be false.
Actual data shows that 30 percent of teenage girls met up with a stranger in person after initially meeting them online “Pediatrics Feb 2013”. Viewing girls online info too many girls social media content (pictures, text and videos) are provocative and sexually suggestive. The sexual suggestiveness comes in text like: I’m sexy, I’m easy, will go all the way or I swallow. Parents need to be real in the understanding of their teen's actions.
The Internet is no fairy tale, playroom, or fantasy land. The posting of this content never goes away; it can be seen by millions and shared. Teens do not realize that their content can be used against them when applying for colleges, Internships, employment and even entering the military. Girls are social beings and many enjoy the social interaction and making new friends.
Nationally there is a growing sex trafficking with the Internet being used to lure and entice girls with the hopes of money, travel, modeling and stardom.
The intent in most cases is not for sexual Meetups, but it is still a dangerous situation when giving out personal information online. Girls should be cautious of who they let in their networks and not say yes to just anybody.
That creates a chance for potentially dangerous ways to find teens that are vulnerable to some kind of sexual relationship or even Cyberbullying and CyberStalking. Parenting should make a transition to online parenting behaviors, the importance of relationships that parents have with their children should involve talking about the consequences of online behaviors that could lead to dangerous or even deadly situations. Parents talk to your children, keep the lines of communication open and realistic. Catfish is a real issue for parents to educate their children on the dangers they face online.