Most of our online activities concentrate on specific websites and applications. These include social media and communication platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Line; live streaming apps such as YouTube, and TikTok; and gaming applications such as Rules of Survival or Player Unknown’s Battleground.
While all of these platforms are fun and entertaining, let’s take a look at some of the main risks involved, so we can continue to use them safely.
Risk #1: Exposure to inappropriate content
Main online platforms and apps – Social media, communication platforms, web browsers and search engines, live streaming apps
Many websites and applications allow easy access to links, images and videos that contain harmful content. They can either be shared to you by others through private chats or on social media, or you may access them on your own. This content may contain nudity, pornography and sexually violent images, which can cause extreme distress and increase risk of sexual abuse and exploitation.
What you can do – Avoid opening links and images from unknown sources and avoid being in contact with people who try to send you such material. If a person is deliberately exposing you to such content, they are exposing you to risk. This is not the behavior of a real friend!
Risk # 2: Requests to participate in sexual activities online
Main online platforms and apps – Live streaming apps, communication platforms, social media
Whether you are communicating with strangers online or with people you already know and trust, there are people that communication with them can lead to requests which can be harmful for you. This includes requests to share nude photos of yourself, or to create content where you participating in a sexual act. Remember – whatever is uploaded online can be almost impossible to remove! And any person who is asking you to participate in a sexual act online is putting you in direct danger. No one should pressure you into participating in an act that can hurt you, and doing so is considered a crime, particularly if they are offering you something in return for it (for instance money, gifts, etc.).
What you can do – Blocking and reporting people who are harassing you and making inappropriate requests can keep you safe. But sometimes requests come from people you care about such as from a boyfriend/girlfriend. Explain to them that these kinds of activities online are dangerous, and that they should never ask something from you that can put you at harm.
Risk #3: Dangerous communication with online strangers
Main online platforms and apps – Social media, communication platforms, gaming platforms, live streaming apps.
These platforms serve an access point for online strangers to communicate with children. Some people will also take advantage of the anonymity of the web and pose as someone they are not. Online grooming is common on these apps where they use the information they receive to build trust and leverage over the child, add them as online friends, and using the access to exploit them.
What you can do – Avoid adding people you don’t know as friends, limit your communication with people you don’t know online, do not share personal information with them, and block and/or report people who are acting inappropriately.