‘Sexual acts’: Cyber creeps target Aussie kids online

 

One in five Australian "screenagers" has been sent unwanted violent or pornographic material, as cyber creeps target kids online through gaming and social media.

One in three teenagers experienced "unwanted contact with a stranger" through online games, social media or email and messaging services in 2020, alarming new data from the federal government's eSafety Commissioner reveals.

Police have caught child sex monsters blackmailing and tricking children to self-produce child pornography by filming themselves naked in a bedroom or bathroom - often with parents in the next room.

 

 

The eSafety Commissioner has warned that paedophiles are increasingly targeting children online, as cooped-up kids and "screenagers'' spend an average of 14 hours a week in front of screens.

"Sometimes very aggressive requests for nudes can be made quite suddenly, right through to very sophisticated long-term grooming efforts,'' the head of e-safety investigations Toby Dagg said yesterday.

"A lot of what's happening to teens online … is invisible to parents.''

E-Safety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said investigators who detect child pornography videos can sometimes hear the voices of parents in another room, oblivious to what is happening to their children.

Nicolle Embra, a cyber safety expert, with her daughter. Picture: Steve Pohlner
Nicolle Embra, a cyber safety expert, with her daughter. Picture: Steve Pohlner

"Children are being engaged to perform sexual acts before a camera, behind the privacy of closed doors in bedrooms and bathrooms,'' she said.

"This is literally happening right under parents' noses, in the home.

"Predators and paedophiles are obviously going to head to the places where children are in droves, and online gaming has become the new honey pot, particularly in games where children and adults have chat functionality.

"The internet is a vast repository for paedophiles to be able to groom young people.''

Ms Inman Grant said she was concerned about Facebook plans to use end-to-end encryption as "the minute it goes dark we can't see what's happening''.

Australia’s E-Safety commissioner Julie Inman Grant. Picture: Stuart McEvoy/The Australian
Australia’s E-Safety commissioner Julie Inman Grant. Picture: Stuart McEvoy/The Australian

She urged parents to keep devices out of children's bedrooms and bathrooms, and encourage kids to speak up if they feel uncomfortable or scared.

"Children don't have to suffer in silence,'' she said.

"Kids tell us no one wants to be a dobber or a snitch, so often they don't want to speak up.

"But the more the abuse is submerged and kept underground, the more it harms the child.''

The eSafety Commissioner has powers to compel social media and gaming companies to remove bullying posts, "sexting'' images or child abuse material.

It will release a new book for young children, Swoosh, Glide and Rule Number 5, and a My Family Rules song by Lah-Lah to mark Safer internet Day.

Its latest report, The Digital Lives of Aussie Teens, reveals that more than half of teenagers experienced at least one "negative online experience'' in the six months to September 2020.

It shows that 35 per cent of girls and 26 per cent of boys were contacted by a stranger, with 20 per cent of teenagers receiving inappropriate, unwanted content such as pornography or violent image.

The internet was used to send online threats or abuse to 18 per cent of boys and 11 per cent of girls, while 15 per cent of teens suffered from online posts that damaged their reputation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as 'Sexual acts': Cyber creeps target Aussie kids online


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