Every Child is a Potential Victim to Online Predators. Learn Their Tactics. Educate Your Kids.

You think online predators can’t find your kid. Think again.

If your child uses a smart phone, tablet or computer - an online predator can find them. Does your child play Minecraft? Xbox Live? Have an Instagram, KiK or Snapchat account? Learn online predator tactics and educate your kids.

Would you let your child walk alone at night? Would you invite strangers into your home and let them play with your child alone? If your child has access to a smart phone, tablet or computer – that is precisely what is happening.

 

Geez what an alarmist you might think.

 

But do you realize that according to The U.S. Department of Justice, 1 out of 7 children will receive unwanted sexual solicitations on the Internet by online predators. That’s crazy! You want to hear something even scarier – 1 out of 25 children will be enticed to meet online predators in person.

 

Phew, you might tell yourself – My child is…


too young
knows better
doesn’t talk to people they don’t know
isn’t on chat sites
is a boy


Does your child play Minecraft on the computer? Is your child on Xbox Live? Do they have an Instagram, Kik or Snapchat account?


The truth is – any child who has access to technology is a potential target. Any child.


So, what should you do? Lock up all electronics and bubble wrap your child? Possibly, but I fear that may be frowned upon.


The reality is our world is interconnected with technology. And honestly, that is not all bad. But, just like we don’t drive our kids around without insisting they wear seat belts – we shouldn’t let them navigate the Internet without some safety education.


You can ban your child from online gaming and social media. But, I can’t tell you how many kids I have seen in my child therapy practice who have secret social media accounts or go online at their friend’s house.


Education is key. No matter what safety nets you think you have in place.

Don't assume your child is too young or too smart not to fall prey to online predators. They are everywhere kids are - so educate your kids and keep them safe!


So let me break it down. First let’s talk about what all those perps are up to these days.


They are loving the world wide window into your child’s life. No longer are the days where they have to tediously develop a relationship with you and your child to groom your child for sexual abuse (although that still happens). Now, they can befriend your child in the comfort of their own living room – and you can sit oblivious in yours.


APPROACHES ONLINE PREDATORS USE


They learn everything they can about your child from social media. Kids naively post personal and identifying information.


They develop an online persona that matches your child’s interests and age. Online Predators can have fake pictures and video that convince your child that they are a kid too. For some girls – the lure of an older more experienced male is used.


They join online gaming (or Xbox Live), chat sites and popular apps that kids use.


They “friend” your child’s friends to earn instant credibility. Kids tend to trust someone who shares mutual acquaintances.


They then “friend” your child under the guise that they have friends in common.


They start to develop a close bond online.


They start talking to your child about their real life.


They let them vent about you and their friends. They make the child feel like no one else understands them like they do.


They share innocent pictures back and forth.

They send more risky, sexualized pictures and encourage your child to do the same.


Online predators then threaten the child with sextortion saying things like, “I will show your parents and friends the pictures you sent me if you don’t send me another picture doing [fill in the gross blank].”


Sometime they will encourage the child to do sexually explicit behavior in front of a webcam. It is often recorded and used for further sextortion.


Some online predators then convince the child to meet in person.


WAYS TO KEEP YOUR CHILD SAFE


Talk to your child about the above antics. Let them know not to share identifying information online. For extra help – read this article, Internet Safety Tips for Parents.


Teach them that online predators can use fake pictures and video to make people believe they are kids. They will often take on the physical identity of other victims – using their pictures and video.


Let them know that just because someone is friends with one of their friends online – it doesn’t mean that their friends know them in real life.


Make sure all their social media profiles are marked private.


Be a friend on all your child’s social media.


Don’t be naïve – kids make secret accounts, so if you are not seeing many postings on the account you are following – dig deeper. If you want extra security – read this article How to Keep Your Kids Safe Online with mSpy.


Do not allow passwords on any electronics.


Have a family charging station in the kitchen and require all electronics get “checked in” for the night.

 

OTHER ARTICLES:  Video Lesson: Parenting Tips on How to Prevent Sexual Abuse

For extra security you can purchase products like the Family Friendly Wireless Router, [affil link] when paired with the app, it gives you parental controls and lets you know about your child’s internet usage. You can set time limits, block websites and apps, get a weekly usage report and stop internet access at the touch of a button. Love it!


Keep up with the abbreviations kids use – they keep changing! Click here for a great cheat sheet.

PAW or PRW – Parents are watching
PIR – Parents in room
POS – Parent over shoulder
P911 – Parent emergency
(L)MIRL – (Let’s) meet in real life


The days of privacy are over unfortunately. Check your child’s phone once in a while. Look for mysterious apps. There are many apps out there that are designed for private communication. Make sure to scroll through all screens – as some kids hide these apps on other screens or in an app folder.


Skim through texts – who are they talking to? Are you seeing a bunch of one way conversations. If so, chances are your child is deleting some of the conversation.


Lastly, be prepared to be called the worst parent EVER. Get ready to hear, “None of my friend’s parents do this!” and “You are so over protective!”

 

You’re not. Good parents do hard things. Things that won’t earn you brownie points with your kid, but will keep them alive. And for that – it’s worth it.

Do you have a story about online predators? Share in the comments below and educate others.

Want to keep your kids safe? Check out these other important articles:

Stranger danger isn't cutting it. Learn these great tips to keep your kids safe!You teach your kids body safety - but would you know the signs if your child or your family was being groomed for abuse? Learn the signs. Protect your kids. It can happen to any of us.

 

OTHER ARTICLES:  Ask the Child Therapist Episode 2: How to Help Your Child Who is Scared of Everything

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7 responses to “Every Child is a Potential Victim to Online Predators. Learn Their Tactics. Educate Your Kids.”

  1. […] your child play Minecraft, have an Xbox Live account or is on Instagram, Kik or Snapchat? Click here to learn how to protect your […]

  2. […] With connectivity comes risk, either accidentally or on purpose. Young people may spend too much time on websites. They may engage in or be the target of unkind or bullying behavior on social media. They may be the target of online predators. […]

  3. […] privacy!” and “It’s my phone/computer you have no right!” But, now a days electronics are a back door for predators and unsavory people. Combine that with the naiveté and impulsivity of kids and it can be a scary […]

  4. […] Kids are generally secretive about their phone and Internet activities – especially teens. But, if your kids freak out – and I mean freak out – when you look at their phone or computer, it would increase my level of concern. […]

  5. […] are up. Talking to god knows who at all hours of the night. Don’t be fooled – even good teens do […]

  6. Marla says:

    Not just Minecraft but also Roblox. Roblox is a gaming site where people create games for others to play – all kinds of games. There are games about jobs, “obby” games (obstacle courses), “tycoon” games where they buy things, murder games, prison games, driving games, and much more.

    Children under 13 have a “white list” of words – all words are changed to hashtags for them except words on the whitelist. Everyone 13+ has a “black list” – all words are readily seen except words on the black list. The trouble with that is that it is too easy to change that designation, and kids can change it to 13+ by themselves.

    The problems come because all games have a public chat room – and they have the ability to private chat as well. If the game creator wants his or her own comment section on the game’s main page, they will have one. There are also forums (or message boards to those of us who remember those).

    There are role play games that encourage kids to role play as moms, dads, and kids. There are dance club games where certain dancing functions for the avatars can be used to look like sex. There are people who want to OD (online date) and won’t stop asking. You see that as something like “123 for a gf,” and then someone types “123” and it’s on. Or one person’s avatar will crowd the other one, push it against a wall, say “you’re hot” and stalk you throughout the game. Luckily it is easy to leave a game or join a different server, but there is no way to prevent people from “following” you. You can refuse to friend people though.

    The system sustains itself through the sale of “robux” and if someone figures out you have a lot of robux, they might follow you all over a game and start asking, then demanding, that you give them some, then get angry and threatening if you say no. This can also be reported. One of the worst problems on Roblox is that in the game comments, people spam all the time asking people to come and play their game or go to a certain URL for “free Robux” – and then they get hacked and lose their account.

    Roblox is heavily moderated, but things get through the cracks. Some of the more “benign” curse words slip through to the white list. The houses in the games have bedrooms and the door can be shut so that if someone is private chatting, nobody can see the chat bubble. Chat bubbles can be completely turned off by game creators. The moderators are active, though, and there is a report system in every game that allows you to report any player for swearing or other offenses – more often than not, you will see those people suddenly leave the game.

    Anyone can get an account. It is made for children “8-18” but anyone of any age is welcome to join, create, and play games. Many college age people and even adults play these games innocently, but there will be people there who aren’t innocent, especially since basic membership on the site is free. If your kid plays Roblox, make sure you know about all of his or her accounts, and have the passwords to all of them.

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