One reason why the cyber predator threat has increased dramatically is kids are developing a dopamine dependence on their smart devices and getting a rush when they go online.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate emotion and sends signals to make people feel happy. Its role in gambling addiction and other addictive behaviors has been well-studied, and experts are increasingly describing it and other biological triggers as factors in compulsive smart device use.
Today Children as young as 7 are spending as much as 10 hours a day online. They are trying to compete with people for likes, followers, and viewers, so dopamine is basically (telling their brains) It’s not enough. All of a sudden I have 100 followers. It’s not enough. I need 150.
They’re turning to troubling techniques to get that stimulus. We have more 7-, 8- and 9-year-olds taking seductive pictures of themselves and then sharing them on the Internet, as well as being groomed by individuals to take sexually explicit photos and then share them with other people.
Today children and even adults are measuring themselves against the images people see of peers online — a constructed, limited fantasy world where people show off their happy times, food, and wonderful events, but hide the grittier and less attractive parts of their lives. They’re trying to compete with that attention, so that’s where that dopamine-dependent society comes in.
It’s that what they’re competing against is something that is not even real, to begin with. Children will try and get the attention that they crave, kids, and will do just about anything, and today, that spells trouble. In one case, a child predator’s victim told police “she didn’t have enough likes so she had to do something — so this is an 8-year-old who now is 10.” This has left our children vulnerable, and those people that are committed to protecting them are unable to keep up.
This problem will get worse and it is up to everyone including Internet Providers, Technology Companies, Teachers, Parents, and Cellular Phone Companies to take part in protecting our most valuable resource our children.