In 2013, more children in Japan fell victim to crimes via social media networking service, according to the National Police Agency. Compared to 2012, the number of underage victims via social media increased by 20 percent, resulting in 1,293 cases. The number was the highest ever recorded since 2008.
Many of the cases recorded involved crimes wherein the victims downloaded free messaging applications, such as Line and KakaoTalk. The victims often posted identification codes assigned to their mobile phones on forums and bulletin boards so they could exchange ID codes with other people who want to communicate with them, according to the international press.
On the other hand, fewer crime victims via games and social networking services websites were recorded. The police concluded that children who are using mobile phone applications are easier targets.
In 2012, police recognized 36 victims of child prostitution and pornography who exchanged their user IDs in bulletin boards and forums. In 2013, victims of such cases rose by 9.8 percent to a staggering 352 cases.
Out of the 352, Line users made up 232, and 85 users from KakaoTalk. Line has already prohibited minors from using IDs starting at the end of 2013, but KakaoTalk is yet to issue restrictions on the IDs they issue.
Out of the 158 minors the police met with over a period of eight months (April-December), eight were boys around 15.8 years old and the youngest was 13 years old. 97 of them were high school students, 32 in junior high school, and 23 were not attending school.