LN – TikTok: how to prevent grooming in the new social network of adolescents

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It is the application most used by girls, boys and adolescents; tips from specialists to protect them from cybercriminals seeking sexual gratification or sexual images Credit: Shutterstock

It is the application of the moment, the one that grew the most during the pandemic and the one chosen by children and adolescents to express themselves on the networks. But

TikTok

It is not only the latest trend among the youngest, it is also a new scenario for bullies to exercise

grooming

,

a cybercrime

which is characterized by

harassment

from an adult to boys and girls through the Internet to get some kind of

sexual gratification

. Specialists note a

increase

of cases and complaints.

Hernán Navarro, founder of

Grooming Argentina

, warns that far from being an “innocent” application as many adults think, “this platform today also calls us to put the magnifying glass, propose responsible use and report”.

What is there to know about TikTok to accompany children in safe use?

It is a network that is used to share videos singing, doing

playback

or some fashion choreography, which is known as “challenge or

challenge

“In addition, the application allows the use of multiple filters, masks and animations, which makes it even more attractive. Its use is very simple: an account is registered for people over 13 years old and you can start viewing or sharing videos of approximately 15 to 60 seconds without restrictions of any kind.

For this reason, the founder of Grooming Argentina maintains that the risk of exposure in TikTok is double. On the one hand, ”

direct messages

” between

tiktokers

, which can increase the possible contact of adults with minors in order to carry out some type of sexual abuse. Additionally, videos from public accounts can be viewed and shared even without the need to “follow” that person. “While the account may be private, there are many adults who still

they have no conscience

that this is important and even themselves

share videos with their sons and daughters

publicly. Those videos can be seen by anyone going viral in seconds, “says Navarro.

On the other, each user

exposes his personal life

Through the videos (where they live, how their family is made up, among other issues), information that can be used against them and to commit abuses. “This risk of overexposure makes the application the preference of groomers or what we call ‘the digital pederast’,” emphasizes Navarro. And he adds: “It is a

sexual predator

who is permanently on the hunt. ”

Grooming is generally done from

fake profiles

in which the groomer (as these criminals are known) pose as boys or girls to gain the trust of minors. The simple connection to any digital platform enables the possibility that a boy or girl (generally between 8 and 16 years old) is captured. Anywhere where there are chats and children on the other side there can be grooming. It can be through Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or online games.

The “bait”

How do you usually establish contacts between groomers and their victims? Generally, everything starts with a message that seeks to generate a

friendship or empathy relationship

. That is, according to Navarro, the “bait” with which it seeks to attract boys. Sometimes, a link is sent to them in these messages that can lead directly to a platform where videos or other materials of sexual exploitation of children or adolescents are shared, or a WhatsApp group for the same purpose.

“Pedophiles need to carry out that perversion or create a scenario to ask for a sexual favor. Once the boys ‘click’ on that link and share the material with them, a lot of scenarios can arise. For example, they start doing psychology saying to them: ‘You have already entered the link and I have your information, now you have to send me this or that photo’, “says the founder of Grooming Argentina.

“So we suggest that they be

private accounts

, share the videos only with people we know and who

do not click on any URL

send them. In addition, that they reject the messages of people they do not know. We ask parents for responsibility:

a 10 year old can’t have hundreds of followers

. Each video that goes viral has the eyes of thousands of people, “says Navarro. And he adds that, just as we do not allow strangers to enter our homes, neither can we allow them to enter our lives through social networks.

According to the specialist, the “pedophilia pandemic” found in technology and social networks a contact link that made it easier for abusers, more than ever, to contact their potential victims.

To prevent, dialogue is always key

. “It is very important to work from the first moment we give them a cell phone, through dialogue, and to dialogue, parents must first know. How it went on the Internet has to be a recurring theme in the Argentine family,” concludes Navarro.

More tips for parents

  • Involve:

    the adult is always responsible, there is no such thing as “boys alone manage technology, they understand more than I do”. On the contrary, boys and girls should feel that they have the support of a major, even when it comes to the Internet.
  • Inform:

    know what


    It is and the consequences of grooming, how it works, how many cases there have been lately, if new modalities are given, etc.

  • Dialogue with the boys

    : just as we would with respect to other risks that you may face in your life, with confidence and generating a framework of containment.
  • Teach them basic rules

    : Explain that on the other side of the screen a person may be lying about their identity; that they should not talk to strangers, and if they do, limit the conversation to the issues at hand, for example, if they are playing online, discuss the strategy.
  • Limit contacts:

    limit the number of people you accept as friends or contacts in networks or groups; control the people they talk to and the type of content they use in those communications.
  • On devices:

    know the navigation systems; read the privacy policies when downloading applications, for example, if it is necessary to be of legal age to download them; among others.

Where to report grooming cases

  • In the

    Grooming Argentina App

    , available for Android and Iphone.

    www.groomingargentina.org

  • Cybercrime Prosecutor

    of the Office of the Attorney General of the Nation:

    [email protected]

  • In the city of Buenos Aires, it can be reported in the

    Fiscal Unit Specialized in Computer Crimes and Violations (Ufedyci)

    , which depends on the Buenos Aires Public Prosecutor’s Office: 0800-3334-7225 /

    [email protected]

  • In any

    police agency or prosecution

    of the country have the obligation to take the complaint.

  • Line 134

    : information, advice or complaints.

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Publicado en el diario La Nación