Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/2/2020 (378 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Cases of young children being lured by adults to engage in sex acts while live-streaming jumped by more than 50 per cent last year, according to the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.
The organization’s Cybertip.ca recorded 107 reports of adults contacting children ages 8 to 12 to engage in such acts on the internet, compared to 68 the year before — an increase of 57 per cent.
The centre does not have a breakdown of numbers by cities or provinces, or even if the reports originated in Canada, a spokesperson said Tuesday.
"These are reports made to Cybertip.ca, Canada’s national tipline for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children," the spokesperson said in an email to the Sun. "Because reports to Cybertip.ca can always be made anonymously, we cannot say whether or not all were made from Canada."
Tuesday was Safer Internet Day, which is celebrated globally each February each year to promote the safe and positive use of digital technology for children and young people and to inspire a national conversation.
"Parents may think their tween is not engaging in live streaming because they’re not old enough to know about these apps or websites," Signy Arnason, the centre’s associate executive director, said in a news release. "But through Cybertip.ca we’re seeing kids as young as eight years old being targeted by adults through live stream, so it’s important for parents to have these online safety conversations at every age in order to keep kids safe."
The vast majority of apps, website, and online gaming platforms now include a live-stream component, the news release said. This opens tweens up to risks ranging from seeing unmoderated content, to inappropriate live chat, to adults viewing their streams and/or contacting them through private messages in order to move children to a private stream.
In one example, an 11-year-old was contacted by an adult offering to share pornography if the tween would engage in masturbation together over a live stream. The offender also directed the tween to use a mobile device they could hide from their parents.
"Open communication with children is very important when it comes to online activities. Building a relationship of trust with tweens can help them realize that they can come to you to discuss any online incidents," said RCMP Chief Superintendent Marie-Claude Arsenault, officer in charge of sensitive and specialized investigative services.
"On Safer Internet Day, the RCMP encourages parents and guardians to read about the risks tweens are facing while live streaming, and tips for keeping them safe online."
The centre offers the following tips for parents or guardians to help keep their kids safe online:
• Talk to your tween about the risks associated with live streaming. Screengrabs and video recordings from live streams can be used against tweens to embarrass or harm them.
• Help tweens set up privacy settings. With a private account, users can approve or deny followers, restrict who can view their content, and limit incoming messages to followers only. Work together to decide who to accept as followers.
• Many times tweens stream at night from bedrooms when parents are asleep or unware. Remove devices from tweens’ rooms before bed and consider disabling the Wi-Fi at night.
More about the risks of live streaming, what parents can do to keep tweens safe, and age-appropriate points to talk about with tweens are available online (protectkidsonline.ca/live).
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection is a national charity dedicated to the personal safety of children.
» The Brandon Sun