Updated · May 28, 2023
Children enjoy posting pictures and other information about themselves on social media, especially during the pandemic. On the other hand, online predators don’t require much time or effort to find and target their victims.
According to the University of Michigan’s survey, 56% of mothers and 34% of fathers share information related to parenting on social media. In 2019 alone, 84% of child kidnapping cases were facilitated through social media. Although these platforms are helpful in many ways, they have dangerous downsides.
This article will discuss social media kidnapping statistics and how online predators operate.
With the rise of online danger to children, parents must do everything they can to keep them safe. In today’s age, predators have found social media to be the perfect ground for kidnapping.
According to the FBI, an estimated 500,000 predators use online platforms to target children. In line with this, federal investigators want parents to reconsider allowing their kids to explore social media without proper guidance.
Let’s dive deep into the terrifying world of online predators using social media kidnapping statistics and the trouble waiting if our families aren't careful.
Children are spending more time indoors, and their social skills are changing. Nowadays, parents believe that keeping their children at home and under close supervision will keep them safe.
The question is, how secure are our children online? Let's find out with these social media kidnapping statistics.
33% of all internet sex crimes occur on social media. Excessive use of social media creates new dangers for children - exposing them to an unregulated environment. They can come into contact with dangerous people and harmful content, which puts them at risk for assault and harassment.
On top of that, the lack of age verification on social media applications can result in adults lying about their age to communicate with minors, which leads to grooming and other predatory activities.
The threatening rate of social media kidnapping in South Africa started in 2020, with 4,000 reported cases. The most intriguing case was of the Moti brothers in Polokwane. Police believe the kidnapping was payback for a black market "hot money" deal gone wrong.
BusinessLive also declared that such crime had become profitable, and predators saw it as an easy way to get money due to economic crises in South Africa.
(American Hospital Association)
This stresses the need for parents to be mindful of the risks associated with using any social networking platforms and to take steps to secure their kid's safety. Young people are also reminded to exercise caution when communicating with strangers online.
Kidnapping is a horrifying experience that can happen to anyone, anywhere. Based on the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Turkey has the most kidnapping cases globally, with an incident rate of 46.67%.
Although digital kidnapping is most common in China and Mexico, S-RM reported an increasingly similar case in North America during the COVID-19 pandemic. Victims are usually children and older people who may be more vulnerable to online scams, parents of missing children, or individuals with relatives living in other countries.
Let’s get to know the demographics of social media kidnappings:
1,000 parents found that 25% of young children shared personal information with strangers online, including their full name, address, password, and images. In partnership with Childnet and the UK's Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, Disney's Club Penguin also discovered that 1 in 6 children surveyed said sharing such information was appropriate.
(National Center for Missing & Exploited Children)
NCMEC operates a national mechanism for the public and electronic service providers, called CyberTipLine, to report instances of suspected child sexual exploitation. They have received more than 116 million reports since its inception in 1998. In 2021, CyberTipLine received more than 29 million reports, up from 21.7 million in 2020.
The kids from Glasglow alone post on social media an average of 47 times daily. According to the poll, every child has an average of 144 friends on Facebook, 125 on Instagram, 144 Twitter followers, and 90 on Snapchat.
Away from social media, these kids only have an average of 43 friends in real life. One parent even revealed how their son has 900 followers on Instagram, yet he only knows 200 of them in real life.
When you thought the internet couldn't be any more dreadful, social media produced more threatening issues for new parents. By now, you're familiar with Catfishing: using social media platforms to pretend as someone else to trick the target victim into a fake digital romantic relationship.
The latest trend occurred in April 2023, when an adult sexually groomed and kidnapped a 13-year-old boy from Utah. There will always be horrifying social media stories. However, parents must do their best to fight for their and their children's privacy and ensure that any personal information stays confidential.
Here are more facts and trends you should know.
(Child Crime Prevention and Safety Center, FBI)
Based on reported child sexual exploitation from the FBI, online predators will request a child for sexually explicit images of themselves.
4% of children get aggressive solicitations from adults online, and 58% of parents report being disturbed about the dangers that strangers pose online. Children between 8 and 11 know the issue and are concerned that strangers may learn about them.
(Beau Biden Foundation)
Potential predators may leave a comment on these platforms or send private messages. They typically would catfish children and impersonate younger children of the same age to gain trust. They may also take on an identity older than the potential victim. The predator will then engage in a romantic relationship with the child and give them gifts, typically items that a child may be unable to buy themselves.
The popularity of these platforms makes it easy for predators to find victims, and for young children to connect and be exposed to potentially harmful relationships
(Johnson County Children’s Advocacy)
Children are constantly warned not to interact with strangers, but most parents tend to miss out on conversations about online strangers. With the rising grooming epidemic, parents should take the time to educate children about improper relationships to avoid these worrying numbers.
Also, 4,000 or 43% of children aged 8 - 13 converse with people they haven’t met on social media and gaming platforms.
Any child can become a victim of an online predator. Parents and guardians must educate them about how much information is too much - and that they should refrain from posting personal information.
Children deserve to enjoy online games and social media participation while protected from harm. The Internet has many advantages, including connecting people through social media platforms, education, and entertainment. With open communication, the risks can be managed all together.
A cybercrime known as "social media kidnapping" occurs when a predator contacts a child or young person on social media while posing as someone else to obtain their contact information and kidnap them.
Social media kidnapping involves exploitation, bodily and psychological harm, and money loss.
Parents can shield their kids from social media kidnapping by turning on security features on all devices and being aware of their kids' passwords.
Contacting the police, their neighborhood social services, or a dependable adult will get victims of social media kidnapping assistance.
Different countries have different legal ramifications for social media kidnapping. However, it is typically a state or federal felony that carries a fine, a jail sentence, or both.
With over six years of writing experience, Darko is a prolific writer in multiple industries including, but not limited to, technology, digital marketing, and finance. Acquiring a BA in English pushed him to pursue his lifelong dream to conquer the internet and take over the SERPs with high-quality content. Darko became an expert in technology the hard way—he broke a lot of computers and cellphones. Now, he tries to give back to the community by crafting some of the most popular tech guides and articles on the World Wide Web.
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