9 Social Media Kidnapping Statistics: How Social Media Ignorance Is Endangering Your Children

Reading time: 9 min read
Darko Jacimovic
Written by
Darko Jacimovic

Updated · Jan 02, 2024

Darko Jacimovic
SEO Specialist | Joined April 2023 | LinkedIn
Darko Jacimovic

Darko founded WhatToBecome.com, a comprehensive career guidance platform for beginners in various po... | See full bio

Florence Desiata
Edited by
Florence Desiata


Florence Desiata
Joined June 2023 | LinkedIn
Florence Desiata

Florence is a dedicated wordsmith on a mission to make technology-related topics easy-to-understand.... | See full bio

Techjury is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Children enjoy posting pictures and other information about themselves on social media. According to a national poll, 1 out of 3 children aged 7 to 9 use social media, while the same is true for half of the children aged 10 to 12.

Because of social media usage among the young, it’s easier for online predators to find and target their victims. 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.

Editor’s Choice

  • An estimated 500,000 predators use multiple platforms to target children daily.
  • 33% of all internet sex crimes occur on social media.
  • South Africa reported 4000 kidnappings in 2022.
  • 1 in 4 children aged 6 to 12-year-olds disclose private information online when asked.
  • A new survey reveals that 40% of kids change their privacy settings to ‘Public.’
  • Chatrooms and instant messaging account for 89% of juvenile sexual advances.
  • In 2021, the FBI reported 337,195 NCIC records for missing children.
  • 76% of social media-related child kidnappings in 2019 involved Facebook, WhatsApp, and Snapchat.
  • 1 in 33 children gets requests, like face-to-face meetings, phone calls, and money online.

How Many People Are Kidnapped Through Social Media?

With the rise of online dangers to children, like scams and predators, parents must do everything possible to keep their kids 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, authorities tell parents to reconsider allowing their kids to explore social media without proper guidance.

Based on parental control statistics, only 54% of parents monitor their children’s use of gadgets to access the internet. 

Learn more about the terrifying world of online predators using social media kidnapping statistics and the trouble waiting if families aren't careful.

Kidnapping Through Social Media Statistics 

Children spend more time indoors, and their social skills change. Nowadays, parents believe that keeping their children at home and under close supervision will keep them safe. 

However, children can still access a vast online world in the safety of their homes. With that, they’re not secure from the dangers of strangers outside. 

Ultimately, such can lead to social media kidnapping, which the statistics below will prove to be prevalent. 

1. Sexual assault cases have spiraled by 300% through social media. 

(Gone Safe)

33% of all internet sex crimes occur on social media. The increasing time spent on social media, currently averaging 2 hours and 31 minutes of social media usage, creates new dangers for children. 

Social media may be regulated in some aspects, but it’s too boundless to be regulated. Exposure to this world at a young age can be dangerous. 

33% of sex crimes happen on social media

Alt tag: 33% of sex crimes happen on social media.

Children 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.

2. Over 4,000 kidnapping cases have been reported in South Africa in 2022. 

(Vanguard, BusinessLive)

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. 

Here’s a news snippet from Financial Mail regarding the case:

You know which one: in October, kidnappers seized four children — Zia, 15, Alaan, 13, Zayyad, 11, and Zidan Moti, 7 — and demanded an R50m ransom. This wasn't just any family, but the children of two prominent Polokwane businesspeople and relatives of property mogul Zunaid Moti.

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.

3. 48% of child kidnapping victims in the US met their captors through social media platforms. 

(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 monitor their children and secure their safety. 

Young people are also reminded to exercise caution when communicating with strangers online.

Pro Tip:

Using trustworthy parental control software to mitigate online dangers for children is highly recommended. Features that monitor screen time and internet activity must be a top priority. 

Statistics on the Demographic of Kidnapped Victims Via Social Media

Kidnapping is a horrifying experience that can happen to anyone, anywhere. The probability of a child getting kidnapped is 1 in 300,000. That may seem insignificant, but the probability increases due to factors like:

  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Parental situation

Based on the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Turkey has the most kidnapping cases globally, with an incident rate of 46.67%. Then, in the US, one child goes missing or gets abducted every 40 seconds.

Prevalence of child abduction in the US

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. The following are the usual victims:

  • Children
  • Parents of missing children
  • Individuals with relatives living in other countries
  • Older people who are more vulnerable to online scams

Below, you’ll learn more about the demographics of social media kidnappings: 

4. 1 in 4 children freely shares personal information online when asked. 


1,000 parents found that 25% of young children shared personal information with strangers online. They share information like:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Passwords
  • Images

Number of children sharing personal information online when asked

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.

Alt tag: Number of children thinking sharing personal information online is appropriate.

5. According to the FBI, there were 337,195 NCIC entries for missing children in 2021 alone.

(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.

Increase in reports of suspected child sexual exploitation by CyberTipLine

6. 40% of kids confess they ‘sometimes’ or ‘always’ change their privacy settings to ‘public’ to draw more followers. 


The kids from Glasglow alone post on social media an average of 47 times daily. Then, further statistics show 43% of teens delete their social media posts when they don’t get their desired reactions from their followers.

According to the poll, every child has an average of 144 friends on Facebook, 125 followers 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.

You might have heard of the term “catfishing,” which means using social media to pretend as someone else, victimizing a target into a fake digital romantic relationship. 

Catfish Merriam-Webster definitionOne known catfishing case happened in April 2023, when an adult sexually groomed and kidnapped a 13-year-old boy from Utah. 

That said, there will always be horrifying social media stories. However, parents must do their best to fight for their children's privacy and ensure that any personal information stays confidential.

Discover more facts and trends below that you must know.

7. 89% of online child sexual exploitation occurs in chatrooms like Facebook Messenger.

(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 through chatrooms. That’s why 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.

Rate of online child sexual exploitation in chatrooms

8. Facebook, WhatsApp, and Snapchat accounted for 76% of child kidnapping cases involving social media. 

(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. 

Predators 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.


To avoid these dangers, read Techjury’s articles on online safety:

9. 1 in 33 children experiences being lured into sexual conversations or face-to-face meetings.

(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, 43% of children aged 8 to 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.


What is social media or digital kidnapping?

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.

What are the dangers and risks of social media kidnapping?

Social media kidnapping involves exploitation, bodily and psychological harm, and money loss.

How can parents protect their children from social media kidnapping?

Parents can shield their kids from social media kidnapping by turning on security features on all devices and being aware of their kids' passwords.

How can victims of social media kidnapping get help?

Contacting the police, their neighborhood social services, or a dependable adult will get victims of social media kidnapping assistance.

What are the legal ramifications of social media kidnapping?

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.


Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
Leave your comment

Your email address will not be published.