Parents, do you know what is cyber flashing?
Online safety experts around the world recently warned parents about a new digital concern called cyber flashing and recognized it as a type of sexual harassment. Particularly, the iPhone users reported most cases of online flashing and it is because of the AirDrop feature in iPhones. The rising case of this digital way of abuse is disturbing for adults but it is terrifying for children. Hence, parents should know all about cyber flashing and make efforts to keep their children safe from it.
You must have an idea about what is flashing. Now, let me tell you all about this digital way of flashing.
What is Cyber Flashing?
Ever been using Facebook Messenger or simply using your smartphone and suddenly got interrupted by someone’s unsolicited genitalia picture? Let me tell you that it means you have been cyber flashed.
Cyber Flashing is an act of sending explicit and unwanted content anonymously to any other individual using a wireless connection. This wireless connectivity medium could be WiFi or Bluetooth.
How Does Cyber Flashing Happen?
Cyber flashers particularly target women and children and they do it mainly through iPhone’s file-sharing feature AirDrop. Through AirDrop, any person may send the target an explicit picture.
If any user is in the vicinity of 30 feet from you and has an active Wi-Fi connection, then they can send you any unwanted photo, GIF, or video through AirDrop. If your AirDrop privacy is “contacts only” then you will receive this content as a request. You can choose to accept or reject it. However, all in vain as the notification asks for the request with the sent image preview. That means one cannot avoid catching a glimpse of this unsolicited content.
However, if your receiving privacy is enabled for everyone then it is even worse. As, in that case, this unwanted content has made its place already on your phone.
Some of the other popular file-sharing apps through which cyber flashing can happen are:-
- Google Drive
Horrible for you, isn’t it? Now imagine what if this happens to your kid. Guess what? This is not just an assumption. Every day, hundreds of children are experiencing cyber flashing all around the world. Want to know, how this digital sexual harassment affects children?
How Cyber Flashing Affects Your Child’s Mental And Emotional Well Being?
As an adult, you may find cyber flashing disturbing and you may be prompted to talk to someone or take necessary steps. But with children, situation is slightly different. Out of their curiosity or fear, they may choose to keep it to themselves. This can further elevate the risk and their feeble mind may react negatively to this situation by making them:-
After having such an unpleasant encounter, children may become anxious and worried. They may choose to completely cut off from their friends and family. In some cases, they may fall into a state of depression. Child monitoring experts also noticed that some children behaved hyper-conscious or overactive after having a bad encounter.
Cyber Flashing may make your kid paranoid. Victims become suspicious and fearful towards everyone around them. Plus, they may fear to revisit the place where they experienced this digital sexual harassment.
Exposed To Pornography
Out of curiosity, your kid may choose to open this inappropriate content and may become attracted to pornography. There is a chance that they may start looking for more adult content and end up on any pornography website. This can severely affect their mental state.
Exposed to sexual abuse
Whether the flashing is on the street or on the internet, it is equally dangerous. Your child may feel traumatized by this encounter with perverts and predators.
Cyber flashing is not a bit less terrifying than physical flashing done in previous times. The only difference is back then technology was not advanced. And, now with emerging technology and internet usage, it has become easier for predators to layout their web to catch easy victims. However, parents can take some steps to make sure that their kids avoid cyber flashing as much as possible. And, even if they experience it, it does not take a toll on their tender minds.
What Can Parents Do?
Below mentioned are some necessary steps one can follow to avoid being cyber flashed.
Disable Sharing Apps
If possible, turn all sharing apps off on your child’s device. Make sure to disable the Bluetooth and WiFi whenever they are traveling or when not in use. Some phones give an option to set passwords to prevent receiving files from random people. You can use that.
Check Privacy of AirDrop to Avoid Cyber Flashing
If uninstalling sharing apps is not feasible for you then try to make these apps safe. First of all, switch the privacy settings of your AirDrop to “Contacts only” if it is set on “Everyone”. Wondering how to do that? Let me help you!
- Click on your iPhone settings
- In settings, choose the General option
- You will see an AirDrop icon, click on it.
- There you will see three options
Receiving Off, Contacts Only and Everyone
- Click on Contacts Only
The Receiving off option can disable all the requests of AirDrop.
Keep All Apps updated
Outdated apps are full of glitches and it may make your kids more prone to cyber flashing. Keep all your sharing apps as well as your phone up to date.
The Long Term Solution
Although the above-mentioned ways can keep your kids safe from cyber flashing, there are many other cyber threats available on the internet. Cyber-crimes like online bullying, cyber scams can affect your child’s mental as well as physical state severely.
My suggestion is to install the best control app, Bit guardian Parental Control to keep their overall online as well as offline experiences safe. Apart from cyber-crimes, this marvelous app can also control your kid’s screen time and make sure that they are getting appropriate digital exposure.