It is a known fact that the majority of predators find their victims online through social media platforms. There are also studies that show that the social media experience is training children's brains towards instant gratification, and causes the dopamines to always be seeking affirmation. This is a recipe for disaster and high risk for our children. Pimps, abusers, and traffickers use social media platforms to target vulnerable children. And that’s what our children are: targets for financial profit for these predators. With the increased growth of depression, isolation, anxiety, addictions, etc., the predators know how to fill the gap that the child is missing. It is also a known fact that LGBTQIA kids have more risk for falling for the trappings. With the content kids are posting these days, it makes social media like Disneyland for the predators. The children are unknowingly giving away personal and vital information to the criminals. Children who have more conservative profiles and are in strong nuclear families have less of a chance of being targeted. When kids are sharing their deep feelings, location, hobbies, and their struggles online, it allows the predators to target the lost sheep, or the lonely child of the pack, and the more vulnerable - that’s their target. Today, with mainstream media and Hollywood pushing for the normalcy of sexually exploiting children, it’s becoming the norm for kids to use social media to exploit themselves. It’s normal nowadays for 12-year-old girls to share nudes, butt pics, sexy pics, flirty pics, etc. It’s normal for guys to post things about their party life, drinking, sex, etc. life. We have mainstream media putting songs like WAP by Cardi B on the top of the charts. The first lines of the song are “there's some whores in this house” and the song normalizes giving sex to boys for money and power. For example, Tik Tok put out a WAP dance challenge in which you are to drop to the floor in the splits and hump the floor while pounding your fist on the ground. Millions are doing it. What child should be doing that?
Mainstream media and Hollywood are pushing this agenda to normalize sex at any age, and that sex somehow empowers women and men. When in truth, it’s actually the opposite. The predators of the world are leaning into our culture that promotes child exploitation and loving that children can’t wait to unknowingly exploit themselves nowadays. The other dark side of this is that there are children out there who are in real need of love and safety. They live in broken homes, and many have been abused as children, so social media is an outlet for them. This exploits their vulnerability, and the predators who are hunting these children are finding them on social media. It’s the vulnerable children that the predators are looking for and they are finding them in droves on social media platforms. Remember a few things here: social media can be very useful and safe fun for many things, but to be honest, most children do not have the mental capacity to know how to protect themselves from unsafe things. Not only do children not know how to use social media properly, but there are adult communities that are supporting dangerous behavior from their children on social media. We’ve seen transgender library storytellers, parties where children and adults both experience pole dancers, and parents dancing sexually online with their child just to name a few.
Social Media isn’t going anywhere. Every age, demographic, race, and the country uses it. Unfortunately, for many youths today, social media is determining the self-esteem of almost every young person actively using it. Without the ability to reason and make cognitive decisions to combat the impacts of social media negatively on us, we are discovering more and more, even by way of conversation that youth today struggle with their identity. Social media is a tool to socialize but has been used for searching for affirmation, identity, acceptance, and love from the world. These things come from cool factor, popularity, humor, and beauty; it is only obvious to assume that children are at higher risk of exploitation and targeting through these online platforms.
When children look for others to fill their hearts desires, be it social media or the world around them, if caught in a cycle that a predator picks up on and they can identify the “gap” in the young person’s self-esteem then they will go to whatever lengths to fill that gap, oftentimes luring them into an irreversible situation. Many end up being trafficked. Where we find our identity and what roots us is so important.
SHIFT will combat this with the truth of where our real identity comes from.