Child vloggers prone to abuse

The Jakarta Post, Saturday 15 April 2017

The allure of interacting with millions of others of the same age has drawn children to make their own video blogs (vlogs), through which they can relate their interests and hobbies to strangers.

Nine-year-old Almeyda Nayara Alzier, for example, had never expected that she would be popularly known as one of Indonesia’s youngest vloggers just a year after she started vlogging.

With only a smartphone and a mobile editing application, she made her first video post about how to make a currently popular toy called “slime”. After making a few videos about slime, Naya became one of the best-known child vloggers with 139,545 YouTube subscribers.

As Naya reaches for internet stardom, the threat of child predators also looms large. Naya’s mother, Imelda Liana Sari admitted that she was worried about the Naya’s rising popularity as it had led to some threats. She revealed that one day, Naya called her and asked if it was true that she could not pick Naya up from school. Apparently, there was an unknown man calling her by name and telling her that her mother had sent him to pick her up.

Since then, Imelda has been telling Naya to be careful about what she posts on social media by not mentioning her school name or home address. Moreover, she also prohibits Naya from uploading any real-time posts with the locations tagged.

Child expert Seto Mulyadi said that vlogs could be used by child predators to prey on their targets.

To avoid children falling victim because of their vlogging habits, parents and teachers must actively take part in controlling their activities on social media, he said.

They also have to teach their children and students to not share private information, like their school schedules or names, or their addresses, Seto added.

Therefore, Seto continued, it is important for parents to establish the habit of talking with their children, during which they sit side by side at the same eye level without any distraction from gadgets. Such conditions, he said, will create comfort for children and, thus, they will listen to what their parents say, including information about social media content.

Unlike Naya, 10-year-old twins Jessica Kelzha Latarova and Jasmine Keizha Sharapova had never sat together with their parents to discuss what they should include in their vlogs. Both Jessica and Jasmine have been vlogging since a year ago, after they watched videos of a young Indonesian vlogger, Olivina Maskan, popularly known as Peachy Liv.

Inspired by her posts, which mostly contain crafting tips and product reviews, the grade 5 twins started to make videos about food, toys or places they found interesting.

“We like to do vlogging because we want to inspire Indonesia’s children to find new and creative activities,” Jessica said, adding that they had the full support of their parents.

Despite a lack of monitoring by their parents, the twins managed to learn by themselves that their posts could make them vulnerable to kidnappers and child predators.

Hence, they decided to not post their daily activities and to not mention their private information, like their address, on their YouTube channel, called Jasmine and Jessica’s Channel.

“We do not want to show our daily activities because of that,” Jasmine said, adding that she and her twin sister also tried to not appear without their headscarves in the videos.

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