Social Media Dangers Exposed by Mom Posing as 11-Year-Old (2023)


A 37-year old mom goes undercover as an 11-year old girl to expose the dangers facing kids on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and Kik. Left unsupervised, young children can be exposed to online predators, grooming, and psychological abuse within minutes.

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In 2018 alone, Bark alerted the FBI to 99 child predators. In 2019? That number is more than 300 — and counting. Each of these cases represents a real child experiencing real harm, and our challenge is to help parents and schools understand this new reality. But how do we tell stories without asking families to divulge too much? We started this project to explain online grooming to a generation who didn’t grow up with this danger.

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Bark helps families manage and protect their children’s digital lives. Our award-winning service monitors 30+ of the most popular apps and social media platforms for signs of issues like cyberbullying, suicidal ideation, online predators, threats of violence, and more. Our web filtering and screen time management tools empower families to set healthy limits around the websites and apps their kids can access and when they can visit them.

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Roo, VOICEOVER:, I, never thought I would be chasing child.


It was two years ago when our team intercepted conversations between a 12-year-old girl and a 40-year-old pedophile., He wasn't just talking to her —.

He was abusing her, coercing, her, collecting images and videos, and no one in her life, — her parents, a sixth-grade teacher.

Her friends — knew what was happening.

I have a sixth-grader of my own.

I have three kids actually.


You don't have to be a parent to be devastated by this.

I work for a tech company that uses artificial intelligence to detect issues like grooming and sexual predation.

And this is something we see constantly.

These abuses are occurring quietly, and mostly go unreported.

And we want parents to know exactly what we know about what happens.



We made a plan.


Announcer:, A man has been arrested for allegedly raping.

A 15-year-old.

Instagram has become the number-one social media.


We've, also seen firsthand the predatory symbiotic relationship that exists between Instagram and Snapchat.

Roo, VOICEOVER:, We would create a fictitious 15-year-old girl complete with a believable, social media, identity, put her online, and document how long it would take for a predator to approach her.

But, creating a person out of thin air is complicated., We needed photos.

But we knew we couldn't use an actual teenager.

It would have to be someone on our team.

I'm 37.

But our graphic designers assured me that with the wonders of photo manipulation, they could magically make me.

Look over two decades, younger., We, bought clothes and accessories, studied body language and facial expressions.

We, methodically, covered and edited signs of aging, wrinkles, weight, shifts, and stretch marks.


We coordinated with federal, state, and local law, enforcement.


We built a story around her —, a history, a family, a social circle.

Libby was born in 2004.

And is a sophomore who recently moved to Indiana.

We created multiple online accounts for Libby, prominently displayed her age, and posted typical.

Teen content.

We, even created virtual friends for Libby, who would comment on her posts.

With, everything in place.

We would launch the project, give it a few months, and see if anyone would buy it.


We hit the button and Libby went live.


The first hour of posting on Libby's accounts, seven adult men, contacted her.

By, the end of nine days, that number was 92., The conversations ranged in severity from making sexual comments to sharing and requesting explicit photos and videos to manipulation and threats.

The onslaught was so massive.

It took five of us playing Libby full-time to keep up.

We decided to move off-site where we could scale up the operation and gather as much information and evidence as possible.

Since Libby's 15, men might try to falsely justify their actions towards her because of her proximity to adulthood.

Would, parents, question, "Where's, the bar?" Would, a 13-year-old face, the same barrage of predators? A, 12-year, old?, How, young could it possibly go?.

The graphics.

Team transformed me into 11-year-old.


Bailey is afraid of the dark.

She hasn't had her first crush yet., She's, still, prepubescent., A.

Parent might assume Bailey would be insulated from any sort of predatory attack.

We launched our 11-year-old persona, online.

One like from a guy —.

His profile photo ..

is a penis.

TITANIA: One minute and seven seconds.

We have a message request..., ROO:, Although, sorry, two more requests, just came in.

How, much time? A minute and 40 seconds? TITANIA:, Yeah., How old are you? Because of the profile.

You know that that is a child.

It also says in the profile that the child is in sixth grade., ROO:, Another, one., TITANIA:, That's, just boom, boom, boom, boom., ROO, VOICEOVER:, An, incoming video call in less than 5.


PREDATOR:, Don't, be shy., ROO:, They.

All say, Don't, be shy.", ROO, VOICEOVER:, Few, parents know just how dangerous these platforms are for so many kids.

So we brought some on-site.

So they could see for themselves.


Bailey's persona was approached with an even more disturbing level of manipulation and requests.


The majority of the abuse happened from a distance.

Our child, profiles also, receive requests to meet up in person —, especially our 15-year-old persona.

28-Year-Old Keith was relentless.


The others, he took no issue with Libby's age.

He, shared explicit videos of himself.

He treated the virginity of an underage girl as a prize to be stolen.

It was a tough decision.

But if Keith wanted to meet Libby in person, we would let him.

We synched up with our law enforcement contacts.

And within 24 hours, we were on the ground and ready to meet.

We already had evidence of what he had done online, but was he willing to carry things out in real life? We knew 37-year-old me, attempting to pass for a 15-year-old Libby would be a challenge, but I would wear a hat, a lot of makeup, and a big sweatshirt, and see if he showed up., LIBBY:, Oh, hi! Good, how are you? Nice to meet you too., LIBBY:, Good., LIBBY:, Well, yeah!, Wait.

So do you want to go for a walk first?, LIBBY:, You, know, I'm, a little nervous., LIBBY:, I've, never done anything like this before.

So ..., I'm, a little nervous., LIBBY:, Yeah..., Okay, um..., LIBBY:, Are.

You OK with me being 15? LIBBY: Um, are you hungry?? News ANNOUNCER:, Cyber tips coming in from the National Center for Missing and Exploited ..

Bark turns over these potential child predators to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children ..


The app has led to arrests like this one in Florida last year., ROO, VOICEOVER:, The, brutal reality is that a predator doesn't have to be in the same room, building, or even country to abuse, a child.

Libby and Bailey may not be real, but they represent countless children who are being sexually and psychologically abused —, both online.

And in real life.

I think about how I would have felt as a young, impressionable child.

I would have kept the abuses to myself for fear of being ashamed and blamed.

I would have suffered with it — secretly and quietly.

CHILD, ON, PHONE:, Hi, Mama! ROO: Hi, did have a good day?.

Child: Yeah.

I was wondering ...

So in two more days, you're gonna come back?, ROO:, That's, right., CHILD:, I, love, you., ROO:, I, love.

You too.

Our work has led to numerous arrests, but it's a drop in the bucket.

Our work, nor the work of law enforcement or legislation, will ever be able to protect children as well as engaged parents.

And guardians can.

When asked.

My advice for parents is to talk to your kids, —, early and often.

Know, what apps they're using, and with whom they're communicating.

When facing crisis.

Kids need a soft place to land.

Make sure, they know they can come to you for help.


What are the dangers of social media for kids? ›

The dangers
  • cyberbullying (bullying using digital technology)
  • invasion of privacy.
  • identity theft.
  • your child seeing offensive images and messages.
  • the presence of strangers who may be there to 'groom' other members.

At what age should children be allowed to be on social media? ›

The message from the surgeon general is clear: Regular social media use can dangerously alter kids' brain development, even children who meet most platforms' minimum age requirement of 13. “I certainly don't think anyone under 13 should be using it,” Dr.

Why children below 10 years old should not be given access to social media? ›

Whether it's connecting with potentially dangerous strangers, the risk of pornographic content or other threats to young consumers, there is a reason that most social media apps require a minimum age of 13 for their users.

How can you tell if someone is an online predator? ›

A predator will often start asking for pictures of their target and may request to video chat with their target in private. Eventually, the predator will start making sexual comments to their target. Predators will also tell their target to lie.

What are 5 dangers of social media? ›

We've delved into the heart of social media use to find the 5 most prominent dangers that we need to be aware of:
  • 1) Body Image. ...
  • 2) Online Privacy. ...
  • 3) Cyberbullying. ...
  • 4) Predators. ...
  • 5) Sexual Content. ...
  • Being aware of the dangers of social media apps is the first step – but it isn't enough. ...
  • With FamilyKeeper, you can:
Feb 27, 2022

What are 3 harmful effects of social media? ›

Social media may promote negative experiences such as:
  • Inadequacy about your life or appearance. ...
  • Fear of missing out (FOMO) and social media addiction. ...
  • Isolation. ...
  • Depression and anxiety. ...
  • Cyberbullying. ...
  • Self-absorption. ...
  • A fear of missing out (FOMO) can keep you returning to social media over and over again.
Mar 29, 2023

Should I let my 11 year old have social media? ›

“Eleven-year-old kids are just too young to have these super computers pointed at their brains, often preying on their self-image, or their hormones, to keep their attention.” Stossel endorses a parent movement called Wait Until 8th that advocates delaying exposure to social media until kids are in eighth grade.

Why parents shouldn t allow their children under 13 to be on social media? ›

Risks of Using Social Media

Parents should be conscious of the risks of youth using social media. These are further discussed below. Risks include being subject to cyberbullying and online harassment, placing inappropriate content online, Facebook depression, and decreased sleep.

What age should a kid get Snapchat? ›

You have to enter your birth date to set up an account, but there's no age verification, so it's easy for kids under 13 to sign up. Common Sense Media rates Snapchat OK for teens 16 and up, mainly because of the exposure to age-inappropriate content and the marketing ploys, such as quizzes, that collect data.

How does media affect children growing up? ›

Kids who use media in their bedrooms often don't get enough sleep at night. Media use also can expose kids to cyberbullying, which has been linked to depression and suicide. And media use can distract kids from important tasks, interfere with homework time, and hurt school performance.

What are the dangers of social media in school? ›

Danger #4: Allowing your child to get on social media too early
  • They interfere with school work and grades.
  • They're addictive.
  • They're changing childhood.
  • They increase anxiety and depression.
  • They interfere with sleep.
  • They can expose kids to sexual content.
Sep 28, 2022

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