The internet is scary and filled with dangers everywhere. Even adults can fall victim to scams or mistakenly infect their devices with malware. Think about how much worse things are for children. There are ways to see who they’re talking to and what they’re looking at, but they can’t catch everything.
Parental controls and knowing which apps to look out for are reasonable steps, but new or unknown apps are very concerning. With kids always finding cool new ways to navigate their digital lives, it’s difficult for parents to stay ahead of the curve.
For example, there is a popular literature platform that kids use to share their stories. It turns out that it’s rife with sexual predators. If you have kids or grandkids, you need to know this. Also, share this article with family and friends so they can protect their children too.
Here’s the backstory
There are plenty of websites and apps where children can pen their feelings, dreams and short stories. Sure, there are social media services like Facebook and Twitter, but they aren’t serious blogging sites.
That’s why millions of people turn to a platform called Wattpad monthly to read other people’s stories and share their own. There are an estimated 500 million users worldwide. It calls itself the world’s most-loved social storytelling platform.
Frighteningly, it’s rife with sexual predators. According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), predators use Wattpad to groom and prey on children.
After several arrests and shocking court details, two defendants were sentenced to prison for over 24 years for the sexual exploitation of a minor earlier this year. Two more defendants were sentenced to five years in prison on related charges.
U.S. Attorney Corey F. Ellis urged parents to know what their children are doing. He said, “Our work is one small part of what it takes to combat the sexual exploitation of children. Parents and guardians must be vigilant and monitor their children’s online activity.”
Best ways to protect children online
The first step to keeping your children safe is to know their online habits and which apps they use. For example, Meta introduced new supervision tools this summer that help parents keep better track of who their kids are messaging on social media. Tap or click here for more details.
In a statement, Wattpad acknowledged that significant improvements are needed to keep its community safe. As a result, the platform is implementing new text classifiers and AI moderation tools that scan for sexual content and potential grooming behavior.
In addition, the platform will be implementing a new age verification system and tools to classify Mature content better.
If there are any kids in your family, it is challenging to monitor their online activity. In addition to keeping tabs on what they do and who they communicate with, getting your kids to agree to Kim’s Tech Safety Contract is an excellent step.
“The technology contract I created not only deals with screen time, but also with your child’s online activities, which can cover a lot of ground. A major part is having complete access to their devices and accounts at all times,” Kim explains.