The Victoria Derbyshire programme today reported on the issue of Social Media Influencers being offered thousands of pounds regularly for sex. One influencer said social media had become "a catalogue for men to select their next conquest".
It's important for parents and all professionals involved with working with children to understand the use of social media in this way is continuing to grow and that it is hugely tempting for young people to reply to messages when they are offered considerable amounts of money. The programme featured Tyne Lexy-Clarkson - who was only 19 when she was offered £20,000 for the first time for dinner and drinks.
"It's high-end prostitution - it's just scary to think if they've messaged me, they've probably sent it to thousands of pretty girls on Instagram,"
After starring in series two of Love Island, an agency emailed, offering her £50,000 for five nights in Dubai. It contained a non-disclosure agreement, stating that the details of what she would be required to do would remain confidential.
Tyne-Lexy says she refused the offer, but fears that struggling influencers who do not receive luxury items for free would feel pressure to "keep up appearances" and become vulnerable to these kinds of transactions.
"It's a lot of money for some people, it's life-changing amounts of money."You can read about it in full here.
The problem affects children and young people in Scotland because the same approaches are made to them, but offering smaller sums of money/merchandise/free items. It is important that it is fully understood.
What can you do?
- Understand that on Instagram and Snapchat even if a child or young person's profile is set to private anyone can still send them messages and they have a choice whether to read them and whether to accept the user as a friend having read the message
- make sure you teach your child the law specific to this area - it is an offence under Scottish law for anyone to message a child online with a view to trying to meet them for sexual activity/a sexual act or the taking of intimate photos:
"Meeting a child following certain preliminary contact - Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005" here.
- encourage parents (even when under pressure) and children to stick to the age limits for social media with their children (not to set up accounts before they are 13 on Tik Tok , Instagram or Snapchat) unless they are managing any account themselves on the parent's own phone/device
- ensure that children are not recognisable as children from their profile pictures on their accounts (whether by using avatars or other photos)
- be aware of the specific risk this presents for your child and their friends - ask them regularly to tell you if they ever receive a message offering them anything (money, merchandise, free drinks etc)