The hopes are that most children will be smart enough to steer clear of interactions with people they’re entirely unfamiliar with and, in so doing, will avoid becoming the victim of an online predator, with the watchful eye of diligent parents that is more likely possible.
The world wide web is a place for networking and socializing. It is also a technology capable of online anonymity, enticing the predators allowing them to have greater access to our children.
It’s much easier for not only teens but the younger crowd to become trusting with someone and establish a friendship in the online platform. While the criminals using their anonymity can pretend to be whomever they please in order to appeal to the kids’ naivete.
As a parent, it’s essential to have the virtual “stranger danger” conversation since kids only apply that discussion to people they meet in real-time.
First, you need to research how these criminals manipulate their victims, their methods to coerce kids to meet them, and where those meetings generally occur online.
You need to know how to react if you believe your child has become a target. But most importantly, what steps can you take to protect your child and teach them about the strangers who mean them harm? Let’s learn together.
The first thing to do
Unfortunately, with the internet and the various platforms set up as they are, children are exposed to strangers on the regular. The idea of adding “friends” to their lists on social media is to get as many as possible in order to be “popular.” The kids don’t care if they know these individuals or not.
That’s scary for the children and their parents. The wrong people can “apply” as a friend and most likely be accepted, earning the capacity to personally send private messages to establish a relationship and gain trust with the goal of meeting the child.
A parent is responsible for teaching their kids the responsibility of being selective with their “friends.” The idea is only to select individuals they know personally or perhaps allow mom to question the ones who are unknown. So she can be sure these people are of a good character and warrant a friendship with her daughter. Likely those who are unfamiliar will be excluded.
It would be helpful to show news clippings of predators enticing children through social sites, most of whom are older men and women. What are some other steps parents can take? Check some of these.
Explain the notion of “risky behavior.”
All kids are prone to be at risk, and those with differences in thinking and learning are primarily targeted. Some kids hope to show that they are independent, plus they have an innate sense of curiosity, particularly when it comes to drugs and sex.
Many look online for friends with whom they can discuss these subjects. So, parents need to reinforce that it’s natural for there to be curiosity, but there are other ways to learn aside from speaking with people online who they don’t know and offering them alternatives.
Be explicit as to what “risky” is.
Kids require something to associate a problem with so they can envision what a parent is trying to say. That means you need to provide that association using examples they’ll understand when you express that there are dangers on the internet with the potential for exploiting her and that a healthy relationship doesn’t involve exposing her.
When speaking of “unhealthy risk-taking,” examples include the idea of sending sexy pictures of the child to the predator or engaging in drug use.
She must recognize that anything where she feels pressure to maintain a secret “relationship” or do things she’s uncomfortable with, is a “risky relationship” that needs to be stopped immediately.
Discuss chat room danger
A primary place for predators to approach children is in private chats in online rooms. That includes Facebook Messenger, Viber, Whatsapp, Snapchat, and Instagram. Discuss the reasons these rooms need to be avoided, especially with people your daughter doesn’t know, regardless of how innocent they might appear.
These are places where kids are particularly vulnerable since they mainly look for friendships when searching through chat rooms, along with the acceptance that they might otherwise not find in real-time. Once in these relationships, they might not know how to get out of them.
No online flirting
A girl needs to understand how online flirting through sexy conversations could be an exciting new experience at first. Still, it can ultimately leave her feeling embarrassed, like she’s being used, and quite uncomfortable as it progresses.
Give her examples of how these predators might work to flirt in the online platforms, such as asking what she’s wearing or what she might not have on and talking about the sexual exploits of celebrities to draw her out into talking dirty.
These criminals want to engage with kids who openly talk explicitly and share exploitative photos or text. Showing your daughter what type of behavior is appropriate for the online arena, like blocking these sorts of individuals and letting a trusted adult know that these people are harassing you.
- Read on: Can you trace a cell phone IP?
Sexually explicit selfies should never be shared
Your daughter needs to be warned that it is never okay to take selfies that she wouldn’t want to share with her grandpa. Or that she wouldn’t share in a presentation in front of an auditorium full of her fellow classmates.
Or perhaps a room filled with her educators. If someone were to ask her for a provocative photo, the conversation needs to be stopped immediately, log the computer off, and go to a trusted adult in that very moment.
Those are the steps she needs to take when any request is made, making her feel in any way uncomfortable, and mom or dad needs to make sure that’s emphasized.
When a girl knows there are trusted adults she can turn to when she’s in a difficult circumstance, it changes the dynamics. There are then options allowing her to get out of the situation instead of feeling forced to do as the predator instructs.
Many times these awful people will threaten to hurt family or friends in an effort to coerce their victims. It needs to be made clear to the child that these individuals lie and say anything to get what they want.
Girls and boys need to understand the safety guidelines when it comes to meeting someone they only have a connection to in the online platform and that it’s never okay to agree to meet these people, especially without a trusted adult knowing and giving permission to do so.
A child needs to understand the exceptional danger associated with doing so.
She also needs to understand why giving out extremely private information is equally dangerous, including her address, phone number, name of the school she attends, or explicit details on family members or herself and close friends by posting this information online.
Predators can use the information in various ways, but the primary concern is they will make an effort to find you.
“Surveillance software” packages
No parent wants to have to spy on their kids, but every parent wants to protect their children. If there’s any suspicion of a “risky relationship,” parents can install software to monitor online behavior or get into the messaging content between the predator and the child.
You won’t find these as fool-proof techniques. The ideal is to communicate with your daughter or son in the most honest and forthright way possible and as frequently as you can.
They need to know you’re on their side, and there won’t be trouble when they do come to you if they did get involved with this type of activity.
It can’t be stressed enough that there needs to be an open line of communication, and it needs to be made clear to the children in the home that it is always available to them no matter what the situation.
The kids need to know their parents are there to protect them from any wrong or harm to the best of their ability. The kids’ only job is to avoid bad situations. But when they do occur, let the parents know right away in order for them to make things right.
No matter what a predator might say, they lie. Whether they say they’re going to hurt a parent or close friend, it’s not true. The criminal only wants to get their victim to do what they want and say whatever they need to, so that happens.
Telling a parent what’s happening is vital. A parent or another trusted adult is the one who can help protect a child from the predator. There should be no fear of going to someone when involved in something that makes a child embarrassed, uncomfortable, feel used, or scared.
Parents don’t get mad. They help, they protect, and they love. The child is never the one at fault.