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Catfishing: An online danger you need to protect your kids from

By Dhrubaa Ghosh,

Catfish are online fraudsters and a threat to kids. All parents need to know about them.

Keep a tab on the photos your child is posting online.

If you're like most parents, you probably thought ‘catfish’ mean a type of fish with feelers. But no, this is one of those many threats the internet is crawling with. ‘Catfish’ was a USA documentary that inspired a top rated MTV reality show of the same name. The catfish there is a person posing threats on the internet. We will be discussing this today since teens and tweens are often catfish victims.  

What is catfishing? 
Catfishing means "to pretend to be someone you're not online by posting false information, such as someone else's pictures, on social media sites usually with the intention of getting someone to fall in love with you." We took this from the ‘Catfish’ show's website. Catfishing in real life happens when someone sets up a fake online profile, tricks people who are vulnerable, and tries to get money out of them or exploit them.   

What should you tell kids about catfishing?  
If your child is a teen, get them to talk instead, since they may already know about this kind of behaviour online. Explain the concept to tweens. Tell your kids not to befriend strangers online, including suggestions on Facebook under the "People You May Know" feature. Also, tell them not to go by looks, as the photos can be deceptive. They should also be careful about accepting random friendship requests. Also tell your teen not to post a photo that he or she does not want the world to see, not to share it with anyone, including friends, online. In short, make them aware of the dangers of going by looks, and of trusting anyone who seems friendly online.  

What should you do about catfishing?  
Talking to kids is not enough. Keep a tab on the photos they are posting online. Use Google Image Search to do this. Close unused accounts of your child. Catfish often pick up unused names and images form inactive profile and use these. Use parental controls if needed, especially for tweens. As for teens, ask them to keep checking on their own image on Google and visiting the security settings to run safety checks of their profile. If you come across an objectionable photo of your child, track it and delete it from the source. If that is not possible, raise an alert and send an immediate complaint to the social media platform.