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Pornography & Predators

Understanding the Dangers of Social Media and Video Games

According to a study from the Journal of Adolescent Health, approximately 1 in 5 youth experience unwanted online exposure to sexually explicit material, and 1 in 9 experience online sexual solicitation. Social media platforms and video games are common ways youth experience this exposure and solicitation.

Pornographic content can be found on all platforms — whether it’s linked in comments on a YouTube video, in Discovery pages on Instagram, or in Feeds on Facebook.

Similarly, child predators commonly use these platforms to target potential victims.

The platforms allow anyone to make a profile and easily connect to anyone else within the platform. There is nothing stopping someone from lying about who they are. These platforms provide an easy way for predators to target children and teens. They typically adopt a persona, lying about their age, among other things, to build a trusting online relationship with their target. After developing a relationship, a predator’s goal is often to receive sexual photos or videos or to exploit in person.

The facts about sexually explicit content on social media and video gaming platforms are alarming:

  • More than 80% of child sex crime starts on social media.
  • There are as many as five million predators on the internet and at any given time, about 500,000 actively pursuing children and youth.
  • 20% of kids report having been sexually solicited online.
  • 64% of teenagers said they’ve seen pornography accidentally when they were on social media, playing online games, or just browsing the internet.

For our latest resource, The Social Media and Video Games Used to Spread Pornography: A Guide for Parents, our research team interviewed 50 front-line healthcare workers about the many ways social media and video games can be used to expose children to pornographic content and/or to potential child predators.

Here are the four most common platforms and their risk for the victimization and perpetration of minors:


Omegle was founded in 2009 as a way to “meet new friends.” Users are paired randomly with someone from anywhere in the world in a one-on-one video call or text chat. Omegle “requires” that their users be over the age of 18, though they do not verify a user’s age. Chats are anonymous, and users are “recommended to not share their personal information.”

Front-line healthcare workers identified multiple young women who were victims of repeated sexual assault and used Omegle to chat with older male strangers. The victims continued to use Omegle to not only share pornographic content of themselves but also to make money off that content. In general, Omegle largely increases the opportunity for strangers to access younger teens and kids, which puts them at risk of being victimized by online predators.

Read more about the dangers of Omegle:


Snapchat allows users to share photos and videos to their friends that “disappear” within seconds unless saved to the chat or screenshotted by another user. Users can also post on their Snapchat Stories, which remain on the app for 24 hours. Users can choose what level of privacy they want on the app, from public to private, and they can regulate who views their Snapchat Stories. There is an age minimum of 13 for those who wish to sign up for Snapchat, though there is no age verification process — technically anyone with an email or a phone number can sign up. Snapchat does not regulate anything that is posted or shared on the app.

Our research shows that a large percentage of teens have sent or received nudes on Snapchat due to the 24-hour expiration of images. Additionally, Snapchat was mentioned in conversations on sex trafficking and prostitution. More commonly, young teens take and distribute their own sexually explicit photos among peers both consensually and nonconsensually. In many of these instances, young teens are not aware that they are creating and distributing child pornography.

Read more about the dangers of Snapchat:


Users of this popular video-sharing platform are required to be at least 13 years old to sign up for their own account, but YouTube states that users of all ages are welcome to watch videos on the platform without an account. YouTube has a variety of filters to restrict inappropriate content, such as “restricted mode,” “kid mode,” or the ability to block certain words or phrases from showing up.

Healthcare workers in our study identified the dangers of “auto-play” on YouTube and the general access to sexualized material. Multiple workers recounted how young children had accidentally stumbled upon pornographic content while attempting to watch non-sexually explicit videos. Even older teens noted how their usage of pornography was in part sparked by accidental exposure to sexually explicit material on YouTube.

Read more about the dangers of YouTube:


Fortnite is a video game that puts players in a collaborative game setting where they fight in a Hunger Games-like style until there is one final winner. Fortnite also has a team setting, where players can form teams to play against other teams. The video game gives users the ability to “friend” other users and video or audio chat with them in an unmoderated setting. Although Fortnite recommends that users be at least 13 years old, they also state that “every child is different” and do not actively restrict users by age. The only thing users need to join is an email address.

While the content of Fortnite’s gameplay was not noted by the front-line healthcare workers interviewed as sexually explicit, the game’s chat ability was identified as something that may put younger teens and kids at risk. It’s easy for predators to connect with potential victims.

Read more about the dangers of Fortnite:

Read the full resource, The Social Media and Video Games Used to Spread Pornography: A Guide for Parents, here.

Explore Our Free Online Programs for Parents

Explore Our Free Online Programs for Parents Where are your kids getting their sex education? Their smartphones? In this digital age, it’s critical for young people to have trusted adults to help them build resilience and resistance to hypersexualized media and porn. Check out Culture Reframed’s free online Programs for Parents of Tweens and Parents of Teens.