How Much Information Is Too Much
Facebook and all technology is a luxury and entertainment item in our lives. Our society revolves around internet and technology. If we like it or not our world is evolving and making advancements that force us to use technology. Social media plays an important role in impacting our views and beliefs and allowing us to seek help, advice and guidance from people we have never meet. Facebook allows anyone with an account to view their “friends” page and find any information they would like to know about the person. That is why it is extremely important when posting personal information about yourself that we keep it limited. We never know who is on the other end of the screen and what information they are looking for that will result in dangers. In the article “Dangers of Myspace and Facebook with Sexual Predators” by Micah McDunnigan, he talks about sexual predators hiding behind fake profiles to lure victims, using their profile information to stalk the victims in real life or evening hacking into account to blackmail them.
Facebook has become the “go to” social media networking site in the world allowing people to connect with family members from across the country, meeting people with the same beliefs and views either politically or spiritually, or reuniting with those you went to high school or college years ago. Facebook receives hundreds of new members everyday, it has hit a billion users after nine years since it first launched. Even though there is no way to entirely eliminate the dangers of predators on Facebook users can take precautions from becoming victims. Users should take steps to make sure there privacy settings are on and only people they know in the real world can see their profile and what they are posting. By having a secure password and changing it often users can lower the chances of someone hacking them. Finally users can protect themselves by only talking to people they know outside of social media.
Today’s generation has had the privilege of growing up with the latest technology which allows them to learn how to use most electronic devices before adults and parents can figure it out. This experience has allowed today’s generation to become so comfortable with posting personal information online thinking that they cannot be touched because they are behind a screen. Teens feel an element of control and invincibility by sharing personal information they have chosen to share. They are so caught up with the feeling of control and popularity they find online instead of the real world that they allow anyone to befriend them through social media. “52 percent of online teens say they have had an experience online that made them feel good about themselves.” Not realizing who they are allowing to follow them they are exposing themselves to the dangers of sexual predators accessing their personal information. Facebook does not provide enough security and privacy settings that will completely block predators from viewing their profile page.
Teenagers tend to have the most Facebook “friends” compared to adults. According to the article “The Dangers of Facebook” the average Facebook user has 135 friends, each of those friends has average of 135 friends as well. Most teenagers and young adults don’t realize that sharing posts with your “friends” is not safe because it exposes all your posts to tens of thousands of strangers. The average Facebook user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events says “Eye Guardian“. Facebook accounts should be monitored by parents because your child’s protection and well-being is at stake. A parent’s job is to protect their child and do everything they can to prevent them from harm. It is extremely important for a parent to maintain active in their child’s lives online and in the real world.
Before Facebook became popular sexual predators would have to leave their house seeking their next victim. Now they do not even have to leave their house lowering their chances of anyone seeing their face and getting themselves caught. Young adults are prime targets they are at a stage in their lives were their parents give them enough freedom where parents are not hovering over their child’s every move. They also act on impulse causing them to post everything that comes to mind even when they know it might get them in trouble. Young adults do not notice that even posting things about their personality traits or likes and dislikes might draw predators. Predators often target a certain group that attracts them. It might be blonde hair, blue eyes, and girls that have bubbly personalities. It also might be brown hair, brown eyed girls that are attracted to having the spotlight on themselves and like attention. It all depends on what the predator is attracted to. It usually is related to someone that has come through their lives and has made a big enough impact, either in a good or bad way, that has made them go for a certain type.
The Internet is becoming a dangerous place for teenagers and young adults whose online profiles attract sexual predators. The U.S Department of Justice has joined with nonprofit groups to promote public service campaigns to warn those using Facebook that personal information posted online can lead to abductions and sexual abuse. Facebook has allowed sexual predators to attract victims from the comfort of their homes. Predators are able to learn about their victims solely from their posts on their profile: they learn about their likes or dislike, personality traits, and day to day routines. Predators have websites of their own to talk anonymously to one another on different ways to attract victims and where and who are the easiest targets. It is extremely important for teenagers and young adults to pay close attention to what they are sharing online and who they are sharing it with.
According to the Journal of Adolescent Research the news is filled with stories of the dangers that exist for teenagers and young adults today. From the risks of drugs, alcohol, and risky sexual behavior, we now add the dangers the internet brings: predators, lurkers, and access to inappropriate information. Young girls are blindly posting personal information about their daily routines and their identities, setting themselves up for disaster. They are single handily giving predators everything they need to know to gravitate towards them, making them easy targets. Despite all the dangers, online communication is used by almost 2.1 billon users worldwide causing the young generation to spend most of their time indoors and in front of their electronic devices instead of outside and being active.
When teenagers are on social media they feel a sense of freedom and the ability to express themselves that they might not feel due to stress of fitting in and being “normal”. The ability to fit-in during teenage years can be stressful to some that they find outlets through social media. Facebook is where these vulnerable teens open up to others they might have never talked to before or even just some random stranger. Looking for someone that can relate to their issues teens attract to anyone that gives them the attention they are seeking for. This can lead the teenager to be in potential dangers due to being unaware of who they are talking to and who the stranger really is and what their intentions are.
Media stories about online predators who use the Internet to gain access to young victims have become a reoccurring news headline since the late 1990s, when internet use by teenagers became wild fire. These cases usually consist of sexual predators using information publicly broadcasted to identify potential targets, they then contact them using false identities to cover up their age and intentions. They then persuade the teen to meet them or stalk and abduct them. The article “Online Predators and Their Victims” states that news reports have suggested that law enforcement is facing an epidemic of these sex crimes perpetrated through a new medium by a new type of criminal.
Sexual predators have become very good hackers. A recent story by the Associated Press says predators in Indonesia were using Facebook to collect young teenage girls, and then kidnap and traffic them. When a 14-year-old girl received a Facebook friend request from an older man, she accepted it out of curiosity. The girl was quickly attracted to the attention the older man was giving her. They exchanged phone numbers and the predator convinced the young teen to meet him at a mall. This led to the young girl facing up against a 24 year old predator, he kidnapped, drugged and raped her. According to the article, there were seven more girls that month who fell into the same exact trap. Young teenagers are too trusting in Facebook. They think no harm can happen in talking to random people online. Teenagers have to be very carful who they are allowing to follow them and how much personal information they are posting.
It is challenging to detect who can be a threat or not on Facebook, especially when teenagers main concern is how many “followers or friends” they have on Facebook. Teenagers have this outlook that if they have the most friends on social media they are popular in real life. This is one thing that sex offenders look for, the number of friends or followers the at risk teens have, if the number is high they know that they will accept anyone. Teenagers need to make sure they are only allowing those they communicate with in the real world to follow them on Facebook. Predators may also use the contact information from the victims profile to arrange meetings in real life, where then they can strike and victimize their target. This is why it is extremely important when setting up a Facebook account that you manage your privacy settings where only the people you befriend can see your posts.
Sexual Predators can use Facebook to take their actions a step further to physically stalk their victims. This is why when posting it is very important to keep in mind to avoid posting where events are taking place and at what times and turn the location off in your privacy settings. In Micah McDunnigan’s article he states the dangers of posting personal information and interests and schedules. Predators can then use this information to locate and stalk their victims in the real world and not just online. According to an article in the Journal of Adolescent Health quoted by Enough is Enough, 65 percent of online sex offenders used social media sites to collect home and school information about their victims. Posting the at risk teens location makes it especially easy for a predators to find them.
Online offenders differ from offline offenders in demographic and psychological variables. Online offenders were more likely to be Caucasian and were slightly younger than offline offenders. According to the article “The Characteristics of Online Sex Offenders: A Meta-Analysis” online offenders had greater victim empathy, greater sexual deviancy, and lower impression management than offline offenders. Online offenders have been categorized as those who use the Internet to initiate contact with minors. The Internet is another way that allows sexual offenders easy access to child pornography and potential victims. Online offenders are found to be better educated and more intelligent than offline offenders. Psychological studies have shown that online offenders also have fewer cognitive distortions and greater empathy than offline offenders.
The U.S Supreme Court considers whether social media is a privilege or a right in modern society. North Carolina is one of five states where convicted sex offenders are not permitted to use social networking sites. And in the article “Do Sex Offenders Have A Free Speech Right To Use Facebook” by Allee Manning, Lester Packingham Jr. did just that he simply posted about a traffic ticket dismissal to warrant his arrest. He violated North Carolina’s law of protection of past and potential victims. Social media sites are an access point for those targeting teenagers and many as four percent of youths aged 10-15 have received unwanted sexual claims according to a 2008 survey. Almost everyone is on Facebook that it has become second nature to having internet access. This meaning that a majority of criminals are signed up as well. Jam Kotenko talks about the scary reality that most sex offenders count on that Facebook can not control you joins. According to a report, the number of sexual assault cases has reached a high in only four years since 2009 reports have increased form 139 to 164. Half of the cases involved victims under the age of 16 according to Jam Kotenko article “Scary Statistics Show that Sex Offenders are Taking Over Social Media.”
Some might say that parents can not control and monitor every move their child makes in their lives. And those parents that do, are labeled as the “controlling” and “overbearing” parents that tend to push their kids into wondering off and rebelling during their teenage years. Being that these teens were never able to make decisions for themselves do to their overbearing parents they start to experiment and follow those they tend to see as the “cool kids”. Middle and High School are were young teenagers tend to experiment now that they have built their mindsets and their personalities are starting to form. Social Media users are majority of the time young teenagers talking about their likes/dislikes, activities going on in school or after, or where everyone is hanging out this weekend. It is also where drama tends to start the most.
This is a serious problem that requires parental control and developmentally prevention strategies for teens. It is imperative that young teens are informed with awareness and avoidance skills while still educating older teens about sexual relationships with adults and warning signs. In the N-JOV study, 73% of victims who had face to face encounters with sexual predators, did so more than once. There were 6,594 arrests nationwide for statutory rape in 2000. “Myths,realties, and implications for Prevention and Treatment” recored 500 arrests for Internet-Initiated sex crimes, 95% of which were unforced. Internet-Initiated sex crimes account for 7% of all statutory rape arrests.
Parents can only control their children so much because they have to let them make their own mistakes and learn from their consequences. Although parents can prevent horrific events from happening to their children by informing them and constantly reminding them of the dangers that can occur in this world. Parents can speak to their children about “How Much Information Is Too Much” by warning them to not talk or befriend strangers, not sharing their location, or posting where you are going to be at a certain time. Parents also have the right to look through their teens profile page and make sure they are not posting anything that can potentially put them-self in harms way. It is essential to have an open and trusting relationship with your child where they can open up about their feelings and understand the do’s and don’ts of Facebook.
Parents can only warn and protect their child to a certain extent. It is the teens responsible to understand and be aware that they are not invincible just because they are behind a screen. Teens have this belief that horrific events will not happen to them but what most do not understand is every teen believes the same yet social media accidents happen more often than anyone thinks. According to Pure Sight Statistics one in five U.S teenagers who regularly visit Facebook say they have received an unwanted sexual solicitation. Solicitations were defined as requests to engage in sexual activities or sexual talk, or give out personal sexual information. 75% of children are willing to share personal information online about themselves and their family in exchange for goods and services. It is extremely important to apply privacy settings to your Facebook account. It does not fully protect you from all social media predators but it does help and make you less of a target.
As a parent it is very important to notice the warning signs when your child is suffering from a social media dilemma. One of the most important signs are changes in school work, grades slipping. Another sign is losing sleep, your child might be constantly tired or complaining to get up in the morning. If you notice that your child is distracted most of the times and always has their mind else where, these signs are crucial for parents to talk to their teens and find out what is going on and try to resolve the situation. Parents talking to their teens and warning them of Facebook dangers can be the make or break decision weather your child is a victim of social media predators.
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