Catfishing – Have Your Kids Been “Hooked”?
Catfishing is an online activity during which people fake their identity to carry on a relationship. In 2010 a documentary titled ‘Catfish’ caused a media storm. It chronicled the story of Nev who was in love with someone that he met online named Megan. Megan was the “perfect” woman.
Unfortunately the persona that Megan portrayed online was vastly different than who she was in real life. In actuality “Megan” was Angela, a much older woman who was not at all the person she pretended to be. The documentary chronicled Nev’s story and eventually spawned a MTV television series. The most important part of all of this is that it brought to light the practice of “catfishing” which is more common than most people had thought.
The truth is there are many people online who are putting up a façade. Some are doing it to protect their identity so they use a photograph of someone else. Others completely create a false person, someone who they clearly are not. The truth is you never know who you are talking to online. When watching the Catfish television show it’s apparent that there are a lot of people who are pretending to be someone else. Many of these people meet in chat rooms. As a parent, you need to know what “catfishing” is and why it’s so dangerous for your teen.
Many people meet online, whether it’s on dating sites for romance or just to chat with others as friends. The problem with your teen meeting people online is they could be exposing themselves to a predator. If you aren’t monitoring their phone and internet use, you won’t know if they are falling prey to one of those catfish. If you are still thinking that it’s OK for your teen to use the internet unsupervised, here are some statistics that may make you think twice.
- 18% of kids use chat rooms. The majority of Internet-initiated sex crimes against children are initiated in chat rooms.
- 82% of online sex crimes against minors, social media were used to get information about what the child liked or disliked. 65% used social media to get home and school info.
- Only 1 in 3 kids will report sex crimes to a trusted adult.
- At least 200 million girls and 100 million boys will be victimized before adulthood.
- There are 747,408 registered sex offenders in the US.
If your child is or has been catfished, it is important to find out who is behind the fake personality. Kids are always looking to make new friends and if they don’t fit in at school or lack the social skills to meet others, they look for friendship online. However, they should be aware that bad things can happen and they can be lured into situations that can harm them. Activities like catfishing are dangerous to teens.
Parents need to talk to their kids and help them to understand that these dangers lurk online. Setting digital boundaries for kids will keep them from straying into dangerous waters. By using a tablet monitoring app or software, such as SecureTeen, to remotely access their PC’s, you can see if your child is meeting people they shouldn’t online and intervene before it’s too late.