Many children now have smartphones at an early age, but do parents know what they get up too? and if you did read their texts or chats would you even understand what they were saying or being asked?
Smartphones have changed the way that we all live. You only have to look around on the train, bus or tram during the commute to realise that we all now have them. 10 or 15 years ago you’d have looked around and seen people reading a paper or perhaps a book, but now we are all engrossed in twitter, instagram, facebook and the internet.
As a father of two sons aged 10 and 13 years, I think that smartphone are fantastic and both of my sons have them. Yes of course it is a worry to let them go out with a device that costs a couple hundred pounds to replace. I wouldn’t want them to get robbed and after all I wouldn’t let them out of the house with a couple of hundred pounds in cash, but I do think that the positives do outweigh the negatives. The main benefits for me are that I can keep in touch with them whenever they are out. They can call me or text me to let me know that the football match after school has been cancelled for example. I can use the tracker to ensure that I know where they. They also often come home and show me photos or videos that they have taken while out playing football or on their bikes at the park.
But there are other dangers to having smart phones. We all know that there are sexual predators out there who target youngsters and try to get them to send indecent images of themselves or take part in sexual acts. Many of them pose as youngsters themselves and there have been cases recently of children effectively being blackmailed by criminals who, having obtained an indecent picture of a child, threaten to publish it on the internet or social media unless the target accedes to their demands, usually sending more sexually explicit pictures or videos and the like.
This is not a new phenomenon and the consequences are often fatal. Back in 2009 American teenager Jessica Logan committed suicide after an ex-boyfriend circulated a nude photograph of her around school. Her mother later said that she had never known the full extent of her daughters anguish. In 2008 a study in the USA by National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that 39% of teens in the US had sent or posted sexually suggestive messages, and 48% reported receiving such messages.
More recently and closer to home is the tragic case of murdered teenager Kayleigh Haywood. On the 27th June 2016 Stephen Beadman was found guilty by a jury of falsely imprisoning Kayleigh, he had already pleaded guilty to raping and murdering her and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 35 years. Kayleigh had in fact been groomed by Luke Harlow who sent her messages online and over her phone and Kayleigh had believed that Harlow was her boyfriend. He was also found guilty of falsely imprisoning her and having previously pleaded guilty to grooming and sexual activity with a child he had also accepted grooming two other children. He was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.
It is reported that Kayleighs mother said; “There were no signs… no mood swings, nothing different about Kayleigh to make us aware that there were messages being sent or she was being groomed,” A dramatic film made by Leicestershire Police highlighting aspects of Kayleigh’s case is below. I would urge parents to watch it, it is tragic and upsetting, but certainly gets you thinking.
What are the other dangers of sexting?
As well as being the target of paedophiles, children also are at risk of prosecution for engaging in sexting. The “you show me yours and i’ll show you mine” scenario is actually a criminal offence when it comes to smartphones and computers.
Say for example, a boyfriend and girlfriend of 15 years of age share naked photographs of each other using their smartphones. Some parents may think that this is is relatively innocent or normal behaviour, but when it comes to the law, they are in fact both in possession of indecent images of a child which is an offence to which they are at risk of receiving a prison sentence, but at the very least will find themselves on the sex offenders register. It could also be argued that they are in fact guilty of distribution of indecent images, a more serious offence.
Would you even understand sext speak?
If you did look at your child’s phone or computer and saw a message saying “Get NIFOC” would you understand the significance? would you be shocked, concerned, worried or simply confused? What about the reply “cant PAW”. What would you think that that meant, predictive text gone wrong, or your child might need help with their spelling?
If you did see such messages, you should be worried, the true meaning is “Get naked in front of computer” & “Can’t, parents are watching”.
Police forces have recently shared a link to a webpage which provides a useful list of the text slang terms which are not all sex related, drugs use and reference to suicide slang words are also in there.
I would urge all parents to read of the list below and understand what to look for, but more importantly communicate with your children and only allow them to engage in age appropriate social media. Some other useful tips on keeping your children safe can also be found on the Internet Matters website.
Please note, if this film was released at the cinema it would have a 15 certificate.
Secret texting codes that your children might be using
|LMIRL- Let’s Meet In Real Life
Broken – Hung Over
CU46 – See you for sex
DOC – Drug Of Choice
NIFOC – Naked in from of computer
GNOC – Get Naked On Cam
GYPO — Get Your Pants Off
IWSN – I Want Sex Now
LH6- Let’s have sex
TDTM – Talk Dirty To Me
8 – Oral sex
SUGARPIC – Suggestive or erotic
IPN – I’m posting naked
PAL – Parents Are Listening
PAW or PRW – Parents Are Watching
PIR – Parents In Room
P05 – Parents Over Shoulder
9 and CD9 or “Code 9″ – parents are
99 – Parents are gone
KPC – Keeping Parents Clueless
MOS – Mom Over Shoulder
P911- Parent Alert or Parent
WTTP – Want to trade pictures?
KOTL – Kiss on the lips
PRON – Porn
420 – Marijuana
ZERG – To gang up on someone
AF – As F**k
WTF – What The F**k
|WYCM – Will You Call Me?
WYRN – What’s Your Real Na me?
Q2C – Quick To Cum
RU/18 — Are You Over ‘I8?
RUMORF – Are You Male OR Female?
RUH – Are You Horny?
52R – Send To Receive
IVIPFB – My Personal F**k Buddy
NALOPKT – Not A Lot Of People Know That
MOOS – Member Of The Opposite Sex
M0SS – Member(s) Of The Same Sex
MoF – Male or Female
C-P – Sleepy
FZF – Face-to-Face. a.k.a. FaceTime
HAK – Hugs And Kisses
ILU – I Love You
IWSN – I Want Sex Now
J/O – Jerking Off
KOTL – Kiss On The Lips
KFY -or- K4Y – Kiss For You
459 -I love you
ADR – Address
AEAP – As Early As Possible
ALAP – As Late As Possible
ASL – Age/Sex/Location
143 – I love you
182 – I hate you
1174 – Nude club
1337 or L337 – Leer, a coded alphabet
KMS – Kill Myself
KY5 – Kill Yourself
WUF – Where You From