**This blog post was updated on December 1, 2022.**
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Catfishing is a colorful term for an activity that’s been around as long as there’s been an mạng internet — namely, pretending vĩ đại be someone else online. The aquatic term for nhái online personas was made popular by a movie and then a long-running reality TV show on MTV called Catfish. It examined the ways in which a catfish (the person doing the deceiving) misleads others, as well as the why behind it all. If you’re wondering “what is catfishing’s effect on young people?”— look no further. We’ll go into what it looks lượt thích, why kids are especially vulnerable, and warning signs a child’s friend may not really be who they say they are.
What Is Catfishing?
Catfishing is the act of creating a false identity and then interacting with someone for a specific purpose, usually vĩ đại “lure” them into some sort of relationship. This can include mild flirting all the way vĩ đại years-long partnerships. The catch? These people have never and will never meet in real life, despite the fact that they can spend hours a day communicating with someone.
Thanks vĩ đại smartphones, it’s incredibly easy vĩ đại pretend vĩ đại be somebody else online. All it takes is a couple of photos, a different user name, and voila — you’re in business. But vĩ đại be a successful catfish, it takes extraordinary amounts of planning and manipulation. Finding photos for both profile and feed images, creating new tin nhắn addresses for nhái Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat accounts — the lengths people will go vĩ đại in order vĩ đại keep up the charade are mind-boggling. They also have vĩ đại stay “in character” when they’re messaging sánh they don’t slip up. In extreme cases, catfishing can also lead vĩ đại serious harm and even death, as in the recent case of a family in California in 2022.
How Catfishing Works
You may be wondering why a person would believe a catfish and carry on an internet-only relationship. For catfishing vĩ đại work, the victim has vĩ đại also want vĩ đại believe that the catfish is real — whether because of loneliness, desire, friendship, or something more.
This isn’t vĩ đại say that the victim is at fault, it’s just that the catfish knowingly uses flattery and emotional manipulation vĩ đại kickstart a connection and then nurtures it steadily. And because a catfish isn’t who they say they are, they’ll constantly come up with excuses for why they can’t meet in real life or đoạn phim chat. If they did, it would instantly give up their real identity. Common excuses include:
- “My phone is broken.”
- “I’m shy.”
- “My mom’s trang chính.”
- “The internet’s acting wonky.”
Of course, any one of these reasons could be valid for a real-life friend, but when they happen every single time communication is attempted, it’s a sign that something may not be right.
Why People Catfish
There are many different reasons why a person would pursue a nhái relationship, ranging from boredom all the way vĩ đại harmful ulterior motives.
- Low self-esteem: Some individuals may lack the confidence vĩ đại interact with people as their real selves. By creating more attractive versions of themselves with nhái photos, they can live out their romantic fantasies.
- Jokes: Sadly, catfishing can happen just because a person is bored and wants attention. It may also be a very targeted size of cyberbullying among kids, especially as a way vĩ đại pick on less social teens and tweens.
- Revenge: Former romantic partners may turn vĩ đại catfishing as a way vĩ đại get back at their ex. Here, the catfish gets satisfaction knowing that their ex is getting emotionally invested in a nhái relationship, which will inevitably either fail or be revealed.
- Fraud: Some catfish will start relationships for the sole purpose of getting money out of somebody, whether through fabricated sob stories, extortion, or other deceptive means.
- Grooming: When an adult catfishes a child for the purposes of eventual abuse, it’s called grooming. It’s a crime whether the predator pretends vĩ đại be a child or not, however.
How Kids Are Especially Vulnerable To Catfishing
Kids don’t always assume the worst of people, especially when someone is being nice vĩ đại them online. For victims of bullying-type catfish, there’s often a very real desire vĩ đại fit in or be loved. A shy teen or tween who thinks they’re being messaged by the most popular kid in school may want nothing more kêu ca for that vĩ đại be true. Their critical thinking skills and skepticism overlook warning signs and missing information in the hopes that maybe it’s happening just lượt thích in the movies. Sadly, it’s often just mean-spirited classmates preying on their vulnerability.
As for adults who pretend vĩ đại be kids, it’s manipulation and abuse, plain and simple. Predators are known vĩ đại target lonely kids or children from less stable households. They may pretend vĩ đại be a kid at first, or simply lie about their age. Slowly, the adult grooms their victim by paying them compliments, listening vĩ đại them, or buying them gifts. This may pave the way for an eventual in-person assault. Though it doesn’t have vĩ đại — a child and a predator never have vĩ đại even meet for abuse vĩ đại occur.
Catfishing Warning Signs vĩ đại Look Out For
Not sharing personal info
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Creating all aspects of a nhái person’s life from scratch takes a lot of work, sánh it’s not surprising that a catfish may not have thought of everything. Noticeable gaps could include details about their family, what classes they’re taking (if a kid), or even what part of a đô thị they live in.
Only text chats
As we mentioned before, a catfish can never expose their real identity, which means that real-time đoạn phim chatting or meeting up in person is definitely off the table. To làm đẹp for this, they’ll pour lots of energy into text messaging and DMing.
Few candid photos
A catfish usually has vĩ đại have at least a few photos of the person they’re pretending vĩ đại be. But recent, updated photos — like a selfie with the giraffes if you said you were going vĩ đại the zoo that day — aren’t an option for a catfish.
Asking for or giving you things
For the catfish looking vĩ đại take advantage of people for monetary gain, they’ll begin by asking for small favors or gifts. It may progress vĩ đại online gift cards, Venmo requests, and more. The same may also be true in reverse: a catfish may shower a victim with presents vĩ đại win them over.
A sparse social truyền thông account
Having a believable feed on Facebook or Instagram is a little lượt thích your credit history — the further back it goes, the better it is. This is because when a catfish creates a brand-new persona online, they’re starting from scratch. They’ll get around this by often putting “new account” in their profile vĩ đại explain away their lack of posts.
For kids, one huge red flag is not having a Snapchat tài khoản. This is because Snapchat messaging consists almost entirely of spur-of-the-moment photos and videos. Not having one means that you’re probably not down vĩ đại send up-to-date pics of yourself, which catfishes definitely can’t tự.
Lack of online friends
Getting people vĩ đại follow a nhái profile can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. What is really hard, however, is having a usual group of friends vĩ đại comment, lượt thích, and tag you frequently on these apps. A noticeable lack of consistent interaction from peers (especially for young people) is a pretty big red flag. Keep in mind, however, that a catfish could have nhái, extra “friend” accounts they use vĩ đại make their own posts more realistic.
Talking vĩ đại Your Child about Online Strangers
Often, seeing is believing — especially for kids if you ask them the question, "What is catfishing?" That’s why our team created a đoạn phim vĩ đại show just how easy it is for an adult vĩ đại create a nhái social truyền thông tài khoản and use it vĩ đại start conversations with kids. Children may think they’re invincible when it comes vĩ đại knowing who their friends are online, but predators can be skilled at tricking people.
Make sure you have open and ongoing conversations about online strangers, and that your kids feel comfortable telling you about who they talk vĩ đại online. If you’re worried about catfishing and need a digital safety net, Bark helps parents protect their kids from dangers lượt thích these. Alerts are sent when conversations may indicate a large age gap or potentially abusive behavior sánh you can help keep them safe online and in real life.
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