A hard truth for parents to digest is that buying illegal drugs online is remarkably easy for teenagers today. In the past before the prevalence of technology, if a teenager was home in their room, a parent could believe they were safe and avoiding trouble. However, now with teenagers having access to smartphones and the internet, they can be exposed both the positives and the negatives of what the digital world has to offer.
Illegal online pharmacies and drugs on the Dark Web open up the possibility of drug experimentation for teenagers who have access to a debit card and a postal address to ship to. This can be particularly common now as teenagers’ social lives are restricted due to quarantine and they may resort to accessing drugs via online sources. Drugs such as acid and other dangerous substances can arrive to your doorstep in discreet packaging so you may not have any concern of what your teenager may be getting up to.
This article will take you through how teenagers are buying illegal drugs online and what steps you as a parent can take to protect your teenagers from engaging in this behavior.
Drugs on the Dark Web = A Dangerous Threat to Teenagers
First, let’s explain the difference between the Deep Web and the Dark Web. Although both are inaccessible with standard search engines, they are very different. The Deep Web makes up 90% of the Internet. It includes medical records, legal documents, financial information, and government resources. Although invisible to common web browsers, the Deep Web is not dangerous. Rather, it is simply an amalgamation of the world’s proprietary information.
In contrast, the Dark Web is highly dangerous. Comprising the other 4% of the Internet and accessible only through encrypted and anonymous Tor Browsers, the Dark Web is the domain of criminals, extremists, hackers, and drug dealers. Since the majority of content on the Dark Web is illegal, everything is cloaked in secrecy. Many users believe they are anonymous, however advanced users take advantage of foolish visitors and can steal user identities. By being on the Dark Web, a teenager opens themselves and their families to many dangerous criminal and financial threats.
Given the dangers, why do teens go on the Dark Web? First, drugs on the Dark Web are central to the marketplace, and illegal online pharmacies abound. Second, the Dark Web is the forbidden fruit of the Internet. Many teens can’t resist the temptation to check it out to see what it is all about.
Buying Illegal Drugs Online is Easy
Below is a listing of the most popular products that are available on the Dark Web marketplaces as of 2015. It’s important to note that this list was compiled before the U.S. cannabis legalization boom. Thus, cannabis is no longer quite so popular.
- Cannabis (31.6%)
- Pharmaceuticals (21.05%)
- MDMA – Ecstasy (10.530%)
- LSD (5.26%)
- Methamphetamine (5.26%)
- Mushrooms (5.26%)
- Heroin (5.26%)
- Seeds (5.26%)
- Video Games (5.26%)
- Accounts (5.26%)
As you can see, the majority of illegal products are drug related. In terms of the final three entries, seeds refer to seeds for drug plants like hemp for marijuana, poppies for opioids, and coca plants for cocaine. Video games refer to hacks and cheats for popular games or pirated versions of those games. Finally, ‘accounts’ reveal the extent of the danger. The term implies stolen bank and credit card accounts that are for sale.
Indeed, Dark Web marketplaces prosper from the sale of illegal drugs. Although the infamous Silk Road marketplace on the Dark Web was shut down in 2014, it did not halt the online crime wave. Instead, it was swiftly replaced by other illegal markets like Valhalla, Deepbay, BuyItNow, and the Sheep Marketplace.
Hence, if teens venture onto the Dark Web, illegal drugs are easily accessible. Therefore, parents need to take strong measures to prevent their teenagers from buying illegal drugs online and risking their physical health and financial security.
7 Steps to Take to Protect Teens from Buying Illegal Drugs Online
If you are a parent feeling shocked by how easy it is to access the Dark Web and the possibilities of your teenager buying illegal drugs online, you are not alone. The dangers of the Dark Web alarming, especially for teenagers who are still developing and may not fully understanding the concerns parents have.
There are steps parents can take, however, to protect teens from drugs on the Dark Web. Below are 7 tips for keeping your teens safe from the dangers of the Dark Web.
- Educate Yourself
The Dark Web is something entirely new for most parents, complicated and intimidating. Thus, this article is a beginning, but you need to learn more. Read up on some of the advice from cybersecurity professionals as well as a background primer provided by the FBI.
- Communicate Honestly with Your Teens
Once you are more familiar with the Dark Web, talk to your kids about the dangers of it, including the possibility of identity theft and computer camera hijackings.
- Make Sure Teens Understand the Consequences
Buying illegal drugs online leads to real-life consequences. Since the Dark Web is online, teens may mistake it for a video game. However, law enforcement intercepts many Dark Web packages, and teenagers could have severe legal consequences. Moreover, Dark Web drugs can be hazardous as what you think you may be purchasing could actually be laced with other toxic chemicals.
- Block the Tor Browser
To access the Dark Web, teens need to download the Tor Browser. However, other browsers like I2P (Invisible Internet Project) and Whonix are also common. If your teen is not using a standard browser like Safari or Chrome, it raises a red flag.
- Weekly Audits of Browsing History and Downloads
If your teen wants to be on the Internet, they need to know that parents will be monitoring their activity. Weekly audits of browsing history and reviewing the downloads folder can reveal a lot. If your teen is visiting Reddit or 4Chan, inquire what they are viewing.
- Monitor Incoming Mail
In today’s digital era, parents need to monitor the incoming mail and ensure they are comfortable with what their teen is receiving. Any packages that are from distant countries with discreet packaging could imply your teen is receiving illegal drugs in the mail.
- If You Find Something, Access Professional Help
To be clear, teenagers buying drugs on the Dark Web or even visiting the Dark Web raises a red flag. Rather than wait for a bad situation to get worse, speak to your teenager and consider professional counseling or therapeutic help as soon as possible.
To conclude, the Dark Web can be the most dangerous neighborhood on the Internet. Ensure that you are keeping your teenager and family safe from experimenting with the Dark Web and the illegal drugs available on its marketplaces. Open communication with your teens as well as strict monitoring can have a substantial impact on well-being.