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Updated: November 13, 2021
Episode Background: In the episode entitled “Underage Siren” a 14-year-old girl, a daughter of a police officer (Who works in of all units, the online child exploitation unit) is discovered to be not only using a fake ID but has posted herself online on #1Fans (which is a spoof on OnlyFans). OnlyFans is a subscription-based website, known for pay-per-month racy adult content directly from creators to fans. Sites like OnlyFans gives creators an attractive way to monetize content that can be created very simply.
What you Should Know About OnlyFans or Similar Sites:
Online grooming and/or human trafficking – The site offers creators the ability to post content and allows for typical social features like commenting, sharing and interaction of all users. Some cases recently have surfaced of boyfriends exploiting their partners into creating content for the platform to increase household revenue. Generally, age and identity verification is poor on these sites and on platforms like Patreon, they offer no verification except for asking a person’s birthday and email address. Posting content on sites like this will undoubtedly invite comments from patrons and underage persons may be faced with an overwhelming amount of attention and a variety of requests from users. Requests such as meeting up, taking money for sex or other forms of exploitation can easily occur on these platforms.
Fake Profiles – OnlyFans and other similar sites are increasingly facing scrutiny for allowing minors on their sites who allegedly have used fake ID’s or forged documents to set up accounts. Account holders on OnlyFans may also not be the person in the content. While an account may have been approved in a legitimate fashion, content creators can post as often as they wish and may use content of others (not licensed or used with permission).
Explicit Content – While there is a significant risk to those producing (or wanting to produce) content on websites like these, it can’t be overstated that young people may also have a desire to patronize websites like these. It may be thought a teen can handle the emotional or psychological impact of viewing copious amounts of pornography but studies have consistently shown that sexually explicit content on the developing brain can severely impact on relationships, communication skills and overall well-being. Users of this kind of online content also need a source of payment to view content and sometimes this can be as simple as a PayPal account or some services may accept bank cards. Addiction to this kind of content can be easily understood and payments for consuming sexual content online can easily add up, especially when auto-renew for monthly subscriptions are almost always enabled by default.
Distorted views of reality – Most porn generally portrays a glamorous and attractive version of life. Young minds can be impacted by viewing filtered/photoshopped imagery consistently and this may affect self worth, self-esteem and distorted views of reality. Consistently viewing or consuming adult content may be encouraging to younger people to create sexual content similar to those seen and may detach themselves from healthy relationships.
Criminal Content – While taking a chance in viewing or creating content for sites like OnlyFans, laws may be broken and criminal consequences for viewing or sharing child pornography is a risk. More and more young people are being charged for distribution or creating child pornography which can carry very lengthy jail terms.
Stolen Content – While subscription sites like OnlyFans offer the idea of a picturesque relationship with patrons, some users may take content without permission and share it freely outside of the site. In the context of some adult creators, this may not be looked at as a bad thing although some underage creators may falsely believe that content placed on these platforms can be secure from theft and reuse elsewhere.
Talk with your child
Talk to your child regularly about their sexuality. Some experts suggest having conversations about porn when children are young. This might help to destigmatize pornography at a later age. Regular conversations about sex, sexuality and pornography may help your child in building stronger communication skills with you. If your child is curious about sex or sexuality, having them hide their desires may be harmful to their psyche. Would you rather your child learn about sex from you, or the internet? An open line of communication to your child will also help determine if they are more susceptible to self-esteem issues which can lead to them wanting to be desired for superficial qualities.
Ensure spaces in your home have adequate controls for accessing this kind of content. Use parental control settings like Apple’s “Screentime” feature.
Discuss Stranger-Danger Often
Highlight risks of meeting up or engaging in social media like OnlyFans. Make sure if you aren’t the trusted adult they can go to talk about these kinds of issues, that at minimum you know who that trusted adult might be.
Help your child set boundaries
Talk to children about finances and how to manage them and monitor their spending habits. Large spending sprees with no recognizable source of income can be an indicator that a child may be moonlighting as a content creator like this. Peer pressure can push teens to create accounts like these and to self-exploit themselves. Having an ‘of’ (OnlyFans account) is a joke among younger demographics but can be taken very seriously by some. Talk about legal consequences of creating content like this (even if it’s not about OnlyFans type sites), as kids more and more are being faced with sexually explicit conversations on the playground. Filming a peer while being sexually active with them is increasingly becoming normalized even if the intent isn’t to share or post on sites like these. Social workers and psychological support may be necessary and make sure this kind of help isn’t stigmatized.
Help build their future
A child may actively seek out sex work like this if they feel they have no desirable skills otherwise and are looking for fast cash. Help forge a future with them where their dreams and hopes can be achieved and supported in a way that is more attractive than this kind of self-exploitation. Career counselling, tutoring, internships or other types of support may be good avenues to explore.