Manitoba RCMP are reminding parents and the public about a growing concern that's been observed by their officers, and the Internet Child Exploitation Unit (ICE).

In a release sent out to mark "Safer Internet Day " today, the Manitoba RCMP's ICE unit reported it's receiving a higher-than-average number of calls from social media apps reporting cases of self-exploitation involving children.

Self-exploitation is generally defined as youth creating, sending or sharing sexual images and/or video of themselves with peers online (YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, etc) or through electronic devices.

In 2022, the ICE unit received 242 reports from Social Media Apps. The number of reports increased to 652, last year.

Corporal Gord Olson, of the Manitoba RCMP ICE unit, says they encourage parents and guardians to talk to their children about online safety and to be vigilant of unsolicited friend requests. He said safe online habits can go a long way to protecting kids from exploitation, but parent awareness is also key.

The following tips can help ensure your children have a safer experience online;

A reminder that social media applications are recommended 13+.
Know all of your child’s account usernames and passwords.
Be aware of secondary/backup accounts often referred to as “Spam” accounts.
Check your child’s devices regularly and often, check on what they “Google” and watch on YouTube and who they communicate with on social media.
Talk to them about appropriate online etiquette (eg. bullying, harassment, threats, sexting and grooming).
Free monitoring/parental control applications for electronic devices exist and are a great place to start when monitoring a child’s online activity.