If you’re the parent of a teenager, you already know that there are plenty of reasons to worry about who your teen is meeting online. People aren’t always who they seem to be, and the internet provides plenty of opportunities for people to take on identities that aren’t their own. One thing that you may not have thought to worry about is the possibility of your child being catfished by someone pretending to be an internet influencer. Take a look at what you need to know about this potential threat.
What Is Catfishing?
First, it’s important to understand what is meant by the term “catfishing”. A catfish is someone who disguises themselves online – usually by using pictures and information stolen from a third party. The catfish uses the false identity in order to create an online relationship with a person that they’ve targeted.
A catfish creates these relationships for a number of different reasons. In some cases, it’s a scam to get money. Once the catfish has formed a relationship with their target, they may claim to be experiencing some dire problem – cancer, for example – and manipulate their target into providing financial support. They may also use the excuse of a health problem or other serious problem to avoid meeting in person, speaking on the phone or appearing in a video chat. In other cases, catfish don’t have a financial motive but may try to convince their target to do other things, like send suggestive photos.
How Teens Are Targeted
Teens can be fooled by an imposter pretending to be a social media celebrity.
It’s a mistake to think that teens are safe as long as they stay off of dating sites. While dating sites are one way that catfish locate their targets, there are others. In the case of teenagers, one way for a catfish to make contact is to pretend to be a popular social media influencer.
A social media influencer is someone who has a large audience who trusts the influencer’s opinions. Influencers may be hired to promote brands or products because of their reach and because their audiences trust their authority. Different influencers have different markets, and some influencers are especially popular with teens. For example, an influencer who makes makeup tutorial videos and recommends beauty products may become popular with teen girls.
For a catfish, stealing the identity of an influencer may be easy – influencers are likely to have many pictures of themselves and details about themselves out in public. And teens may be flattered and excited to be approached personally by what seems to be an influencer that they follow. This dynamic makes it easy for an imposter influencer to manipulate the teens they approach.
How to Protect Your Teens
It’s important to talk to your teens about the possibility of being catfished and the signs that something isn’t right. There are a number of different signs that can indicate that you’re being catfished. Refusing to talk over the phone or communicate via webcam on Skype or FaceTime is an important sign. It’s also common for catfish to have a high number of opposite gender contacts on social media, experience an unusual amount of traumatic life events, or speak in vague terms about their past and give few details about their daily life.
Parental monitoring software can help you keep an eye out for signs of trouble and put a stop to fishy online interactions before an imposter can take advantage of your teen. For an up-close look at how parental monitoring software can help you, get our risk free trial.