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Warning to parents after CT girl was targeted by social media app

HARTFORD --   A state legislator is warning parents about the dangers of social media after a 9-year-old girl was targeted for child exploitation.

Connecticut Representative Liz Linehan issued a release Monday stating that a young girl was approached on the app Tik Tok and told that if she downloaded the app Face Cast, she would gain 1,000 followers.

After downloading the app, she was brought into a chat room with hundreds of other children, where they were asked to film themselves and upload the videos.

The child was told they would find her family and hurt them if she did not comply.

Rep. Linehan is urging parents to check their children’s devices for Face Cast and to immediately delete the app.

Rep. Linehan said, “Children often don’t realize that the photos and videos they are asked to create are for the gratification of adult abusers.”

“What could seem funny or innocuous to a child — taking photos of feet or a video of themselves using the bathroom — could in fact be exploitive and predatory. The photos and videos could be used for nefarious purposes,” Rep. Linehan said. “Abusers count on a child’s innocence. Once a photo or video is shared or traded online, it can be used to blackmail the child into making videos more sexual or fetish in nature.”

Linehan said parents should tell their children:

  • Never accept a friend request or start a conversation with someone you don’t know, even another child. Oftentimes adults pose as children online to gain the trust of the child.
  • You do not have to talk to someone who talks to you. If someone contacts you, and you don’t know them, tell a parent immediately.
  • Don’t ever agree to meet anyone in person that you “met” online.
  • Never fill in an online profile with your full name, address, or phone number.
  • Don’t download or post anything without your parents’ permission.
  • It is safer to immediately report threats of violence to your parents and the police, than to try to handle it yourself. This is their job, and they’re here to protect you.
  • Anything put online is forever. A good rule to remember is if you wouldn’t want it on national television, don’t put it online.

Tips for parents whose children are online:

  • Monitor your children’s devices daily.
  • Only allow usage of the device in an area where adults are present, i.e., the family room, instead of in the child’s bedroom.
  • Do not allow children under 16 to use social media; if you do, allow only if settings are private at all times, and check often that those privacy settings remain intact.
  • Start a dialogue about internet safety as soon as possible.

Story written by Julia Matter

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