American youth of today spend hours of their time on the internet playing games, chatting with friends, and looking up information on various websites. Youth are more wired today than ever before, with over 90 percent of American children aged 12-17 having internet access. This extended time spent on the internet has led many parents to worry about the safety and security of their children.
While the internet is anonymous, studies have found that nearly one in every four children receive unwanted sexual solicitations over the internet. Only about 20 percent of children report these messages to their parents or a trusted adult, and many children will choose to ignore such messages. Still, some children will consider meeting these anonymous internet individuals despite what they know to be in their best interests.
Due to a lack of experience and naivety, children are noticeably more gullible than adults. As a result, child predators can utilize the internet as a tool for victimizing children, often posing as peers to trick children into a physical meeting.
These internet child predators have become more common as the internet continues to grow in popularity and as children begin to use the internet at a younger age. With the social expectations of independence growing as well, children are also gaining more responsibility at a younger age. All of these changes have made children more susceptible to victimization, especially over the internet.
The television show “To Catch A Predator” focused on internet child predators and the kidnapping of children. In the show, hidden cameras and actors lure potential child predators under the pretense of sexual encounters with a minor.