A 24-year-old Longueuil man is facing charges of luring children and producing child pornography.

Maxime Berard Nault appeared in court Wednesday, and faces 20 charges including extortion, luring children, corrupting a minor and producing child pornography.

Police say Nault would often pose online as a young girl and make contact with boys throughout Montreal and its suburbs. He is accused of convincing them to send photos or videos of themselves, and then blackmailing them to continue sending more.

"So far the investigation demonstrates that the suspect was in contact with young boys aged between 11 and 13 years old," said SQ spokesperson Joyce Kemp.

The Surete du Quebec said Nault had multiple false profiles on Facebook, Skype, and other services, and typically used Facebook to initially contact the boys.

"He would contact them there for the first time, have exchanges, and he would ask for pictures or videos that contained child pornography," said Kemp, adding that the boys believes they were talking to a young girl.

Police are not certain if Nault had more alleged victims than the ones who have come forward, and are inviting people to contact them at 1-800-659-4264.

Guide kids online, says expert

Educational consultant Alissa Sklar writes about children and digital safety on her blog risk-within-reason.com, and said social media users are signing on younger than ever and need guidance to stay safe.

β€œTo start by guided supervision from a very young age because they might have the technical skills but they don't have that accumulated experience and judgment to give them that little voice in the back of their heads to say there's something wrong here,” she said.

Instead of banning social media use, Sklar advocates supervision and support.

β€œI think that the most important thing is for parents and schools to get involved in teaching kids from a very young age how to use these technologies in creative, productive, responsible and safe ways,” she said.

Sklar points out the importance of monitoring children's behaviour and to look for warning signs offline as well.