What Makes the Internet Dangerous?
To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDEdspace and end it with #DoNowInternet
For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.
What is it that makes the internet potentially dangerous? It may have to do with how you interact with people—do you talk to people you meet online in the same way you would talk to someone you met offline? How are the risks teenagers face online different or similar to the risks they face in a place like the school hallway or the mall?
Online social networks like Instagram, Snapchat, and messaging apps act as places for people to share images and conversations. According to the Pew Research Internet Project, 95% of teenagers are online.
Just like in school or the mall, online spaces like Facebook or Twitter can be places of great conversations with friends; however, they can also be a place of unwanted comments or requests, and relationships that aren’t clearly defined.
One type of unwanted interaction can be requests to engage in sexual conversation or even sexual activity—whether it’s a boyfriend or girlfriend, a classmate from school, or a person you met online.
Recent cases of exploitation have involved people using social media sites like Facebook or apps such as Whisper to attract others into relationships that may eventually lead to commercial sexual exploitation. Here’s an example from this month:
Tevon Harris, a 22 year old in Houston, TX, plead guilty to two charges of child sex trafficking. He would meet young girls online, and gain their trust by talking to them about their goals and dreams. He would tell them that he was going to help them become models, and ask to meet up in person. When he picked them up, he took them to hotel rooms, forced them to take drugs, raped them, and took away their phones—cutting off communication with the outside world. He took their photos and posted them online as advertisements for prostitution. Then, he forced them to meet with the people who would buy them online, and kept all of the money that they received.
Stories like this show how online interactions can lead to serious danger. There are millions of others, however, who use the Internet without running into trouble. Right now, for example, you’re about to comment on this post and respond to other students on Twitter.
What are some “red flags” that might cause you to think a conversation or relationship could be moving in an unsafe or harmful direction?
NPR Here & Now segment FBI Official: Internet A Key Recruiting Tool For Sex Traffickers
Ron Hosko, the assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, tells NPR that the Internet has become a key tool for recruitment of minors for sex traffickers. “…we saw a group who were recruiting across Facebook, with simple compliments to young girls, saying ‘you’re pretty’ [and] ‘would you like to make some money?’” he says. Click on the player above and you will be redirected to the audio on NPR’s page.
To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDedspace and end it with #DoNowInternet
For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.
We encourage students to reply to other people’s tweets to foster more of a conversation. Also, if students tweet their personal opinions, ask them to support their ideas with links to interesting/credible articles online (adding a nice research component) or retweet other people’s ideas that they agree/disagree/find amusing. We also value student-produced media linked to their tweets. You can visit our video tutorials that showcase how to use several web-based production tools. Of course, do as you can… and any contribution is most welcomed.
Love146 resource Online Safety (It’s not lame if it actually protects you)
Relationships and friendships are complicated—especially when you’re talking to someone online—and it can be hard to know if someone has your best interest in mind. While this definitely doesn’t mean you need to stop going online, here are some things to consider
Pew Research Center study How Teens Share Information on Social Media
How many teens post a photo of themselves on their Facebook profile? How many post their relationship status? Click through this interactive infographic about how teens share information on social media (based on a survey of 802 teenagers).
FBI article Houston Man Convicted of Sex Trafficking of Children
This is the FBI’s report on the case of Tevon Harris, a man in Houston, TX, who plead guilty to trafficking the minors he met on social networking sites.
This post was written by Elaine Kim from LOVE146, an international human rights organization working to end child trafficking and exploitation through survivor care, prevention education, professional training and empowering movement. Love146 believes in helping grow the movement of abolition while providing effective, thoughtful solutions. We believe in the power of Love and its ability to affect sustainable change.