Material girls: Young girls trade naked pics for gifts over Bluetooth in UAE
Dr Saliha Afridi, director of mental health clinic The Lighthouse Arabia, told 7DAYS: “Teenage girls are literally selling themselves.
“They will send pictures in return for money, phones, designer handbags, jewellery and more.
“Usually older guys, who can afford to buy them things, keep their Bluetooth on and then wave their phone at a girl they spot to signal that they want to talk. Then they connect on chat.”
The phone chat that follows often results in a trade.
“The girl might send a picture of a body part to somebody who then drops something off outside their window at home,” the doctor explained.
“It’s a ‘if you do this, then I’ll give you that’ situation.”
Afridi warned that predators cast their net wide to target adolescents as young as 11.
“It happens at the mall, at the cinema, in the coffee shops.
“Sometimes if you’re sitting in a parked car, they’ll even knock on your window with their phone,” Afridi explained.
Afridi spoke to 7DAYS earlier after conducting free child-guidance parenting seminar ‘How to Bridge the Great Divide: Parenting your Kids through the Pre-Teen and Teenage Years’. Afridi stressed that a child’s access to messenger services should be restricted, or at least limited.
“I would never give them BBM,” said the psychologist.
“The bottom line is BlackBerry conversations cannot be tracked. Kids can delete conversations.”
She said that if parents must give their kids a phone, one without internet connection is best as texts can be monitored.
Afridi added: “Before you give them a phone, think about every single thing that can go wrong.
“Let them know is a privilege and a luxury. If you abuse it, it will be removed.
I'm not going to say I don't mean to freak you out. Be freaked out.”
In a statement to 7DAYS, Chris Corsi, BlackBerry country director - UAE, Oman and Pakistan, said: “We are committed to providing the best possible protection to our users. While we do not have any control over who – and in what way – BBM is used, there are a number of controls available to ensure a certain level of security and protection.
The BlackBerry Parental Controls application is pre-installed on BlackBerry 10 smartphones or available as a free download on BlackBerry World. It provides parents with the ability to restrict access to functions such as the camera, features and application downloads on their child’s BlackBerry smartphone.”