As you walk with your family through the crowded streets and shops this December, taking in the incredible festive atmosphere. You can imagine the look of horror on a child face. The child has opened a message on their phone, only to discover someone has Air Dropped a sexualised image of an erect penis. Fear and anger quickly envelop, as you scan the many passing faces. A dark realisation, someone in among the festive crowd has exposed your child to this image and is probably looking at you right now. Watching for the reaction. Your family has just become the latest victim of a “Cyber Flashing” incident.
This would be a horrific scene for anybody to experience. However, it is happening far more than you might imagine. Known by a rather sterile term, “Cyber Flashing”, this new form of sexually deviant behaviour is growing in popularity. So much so, in New York authorities are introducing new legislation to make it a criminal offence, with a fine of up to $1000. “Cyber Flashing”, occurs on Apple devices by using the AirDrop tool, designed to share content with other Apple owners over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
The normalisation of the exchange of explicit images is gathering momentum all the time. “Cyber Flashing”, has a real world relative, known more appropriately known as Exhibitionism. There are generally three reasons people engage in this type of behaviour. Firstly, they become sexually aroused by exposing themselves to others. Secondly, the unsuspecting victim’ reaction, can add to the arousal and excitement. What is quite amazing, is the little known third reason, a hope or actual belief, the victim will replicate the same back to the Flasher. Of more concern to us, is that Exhibitionism can be a precursor to actual contact sexual offending.
In New York, people who travel on the Subway system are becoming victims of this sexual predatory behaviour. Attempts are being made to curb it. ‘Just like if you get on the train and flash someone, you’ll be arrested,’ council member Donovan Richards, who co-sponsors the new bill alongside five others, told Wired. Dropping “Dick Pic’s” on unsuspecting victims, appears to be far more common than we would imagine.
Unfortunately, Ireland is once again arriving very late to this party. There has been an enormous increase in the number of digital related crimes happening. Unfortunately digital crimes occur at a rate that is far outpacing law enforcement’s ability to deal with these types of crime.
There are three settings for this tool, go to SETTINGS –> GENERAL – > AirDrop,. There are three options, Receiving Off, Contacts Only and Everyone. Use the Receiving Off option, to prevent anyone transferring images, or Airdropping content on the device. Parental Control features are available now on all Apple devices, and are found under Settings – > Screentime.
If your child has access to a digital device, as a parent you are ultimately responsible for their safety. Every single device a child has access to, needs to have Parental Control’s enabled on them. It important to ensure a children know to always inform parents should they ever receive a sexualized image on their device. Also, to report if they ever receive a message from anyone that requests an inappropriate image from them.