Mom Says Sexual Predator Contacted Her 8-Year-Old on This Popular App

girl with headphones singing
iStock.com/kali9

Parents of elementary and middle schoolers are probably familiar with this app, but they may not be aware of the hidden dangers kids can be exposed to by using it: One mom says her 8-year-old was targeted by an online predator who was posing as Justin Bieber through Musical.ly.

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The popular app allows kids to record themselves singing along with their favorite stars, and then share the video with friends who are also on it. Alicia, a mom in Melbourne, Australia, was already reluctant to allow her young daughter, Charli, to download it, but relented because many of the tween's peers were using it.

But this mother's intuition -- and her worst fears -- were realized when she saw multiple alarming messages pop up on her little girl's iPad.

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"A notification popped up saying it was from 'The Real Justin Bieber,' and I was like 'Oh, who is that?'" the mom told news.com.au.

While most adults would immediately be suspect, you never know how kids will react -- especially at the thought of possibly being contacted by one of their idols.

"The message had Justin Bieber’s photo on the screen, and it looked very real and well done," Alicia continued to news.com.au. 

Unfortunately, the messages quickly devolved from simply deceptive to totally deviant. 

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"The first message said 'Who wants to win a 5 minute video call with me [Bieber],'" recalled Alicia, who noted that Biebs had recently been in Australia, making the messages seem slightly plausible. "The next message said 'All you need to do is send me a photo of you naked, or of your vagina.'"

Unthinkable, right? Thankfully, Alicia was right there with her daughter and able to recognize what she was seeing. This last part is the absolute worst. She shares:

"I knew it was a professional groomer as soon as the final message popped up, because it was really encouraging her to send a photo. It read 'Lots of girls send me these pics all the time and I will never tell anyone you sent one.'"

This mom took the iPad to the police but, while concerned, they pointed out that it could be nearly impossible to track down this predator, as he or she could be anywhere in the world. 

Like any parent, Alicia is just thankful she was beside her daughter when the disturbing request came through. And, while it's never easy to talk with children of such a young age about this subject matter, this story is an important reminder that when kids are online, so are predators.

Common Sense Media offers the following tips to help parents and caregivers keep kids safe by reminding them:

  1. Don't give out personal information.
  2. Never send pictures to strangers.
  3. Keep passwords private.
  4. Don't download anything without permission.
  5. Tell a parent or grown-up if you receive strange or mean messages. 

Based on Alicia's experience, keeping kids within view while they're on their devices could also save them from falling prey to an unsavory character.

Thankfully, this mom was right there and no harm came to her daughter. We're glad she's sharing the frightening details as a warning to others whose kids might be easily targeted.

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