What Is Cyber Exploitation?
Cyber exploitation is the act of misusing social media platforms, chat rooms and/or other means of information technology to manipulate an individual or deceptively utilise the individual’s personal information for personal gain. – ICDL Arabia
Did you know that 750,000 sexual predators can be found online at any given moment? Did you know that nearly 20% of kids use online chat rooms, which is the main source of where Internet-related crimes against children take place? Did you know that nearly 70% of teens in the Middle East have admitted they have shared personal information online to someone they didn’t know!
Children put themselves at great risk by communicating online with individuals they do not know in person. Internet predators intentionally access sites that children visit and can even search for potential victims by location or interest.
If a predator is already communicating with a child, he or she can piece together clues from what the child mentions online. This includes where the child goes to school, and how far away the child lives from a certain landmark, store, or other location.
What Is Online Grooming?
Online grooming is a process which can take place in a short time or over an extended period of time. Initial conversations online can appear innocent, but often involve some level of deception. As the predator (usually an adult) attempts to establish a relationship to gain a child’s trust, he may initially lie about his age or may never reveal his real age to the child, even after forming an established online relationship. In online grooming, the groomer will know popular music artists, clothing trends, sports team information, or another activity or hobby the child may be interested in, and will try to relate to the child.
These tactics of online grooming lead children to believe that no one else can understand them or their situation the way their groomer does. After the child’s trust develops, the online groomer may use sexually explicit conversations to test boundaries and exploit a child’s natural curiosity and fantasies. Predators take advantage of this by lowering a child’s inhibitions and using their adult status to influence and control their victim’s behavior.
They also flatter and compliment the child excessively and manipulate a child’s trust by relating to emotions and insecurities and affirming the child’s feelings and choices.
Remember: The ultimate goal in online grooming is to arrange an in-person meeting with the child!
There are many types of online groomers and online predators out there. However, almost all predators will do a combination of the following:
- Prey on teen’s desire for personal information, adventure, and even romance.
- Develop trust and secrecy: manipulate child by listening to and sympathizing with the child’s problems and insecurities
- Affirm feelings and choices of the child
- Exploit natural sexual curiosities of the child
- Ease inhibitions by gradually introducing sex into conversations or exposing them to inappropriate content
- Flatter and compliment the child excessively, send gifts, and invest time, money, and energy to groom the child
- Develop an online relationship that is romantic, controlling, and upon which the child becomes dependent
- Create gaps between the child and his/her parents and friends
- Make promises of an exciting, stress-free life, tailored to the youth’s desires
- Make threats and blackmail them to stay silent about their actions