Twenty-two percent of teens between the ages of 14 and 17 have sent and/or received pornographic images using their mobile phones. Fifteen percent of teens have sent nude photos of themselves to someone they’ve never met.
While statistics like these might appear to be primetime news headlines begging for viewers, unfortunately, these numbers―and their severity―are real.
Mobile applications like Kik and Viber are becoming increasingly popular, making it easier to communicate with friends and strangers alike. No longer are children and teens protected by the anonymity of an 11-digit phone number.
Kik, in particular, was the chat application used in a case involving a student, “Emily”. In less than a minute, the free Kik application can be downloaded on a mobile device, enabling the user to chat and exchange photos with friends and strangers throughout the world by only providing a username.
One day last month, Emily was exchanging email with her friend, Daniel. Emily was describing to Daniel a communication with another user on Kik. The Kik user, an unidentified male, began to send Emily unsolicited nude photos and requested she reciprocate with photos of herself.
When Emily rejected the request, the male made numerous obscene comments and continued to message her and send photos. When Emily blocked him on Kik, she discovered he also had obtained her phone number and continued the abuse after being blocked. Emily was concerned for her safety and emailed her friend, Daniel, telling him about the situation.
Within 10 minutes of Emily contacting Daniel with concern for her safety, a Gaggle Safety Management Student Safety Representive alerted school authorities who took immediate action. Without this intervention and powerful email filtering, this situation may have progressed without the involvement of authorities at Emily’s school.