A study says that teens spend nearly nine hours a day using media and children aged 8 to 12 spend around six hours a day doing the same. It means our kids remain exposed to social media vulnerabilities for quite long every day after day. With the expansion of internet and access to social networking sites to a majority of children, the numbers of online sex crimes and online predators have also accelerated.
Social media has long been in news and mostly for wrong reasons like cyber bullying, kidnapping and homicide, and it now has become the biggest platform for predators. Almost 82% of online sex crimes are devised from social networking sites where the predators get and manipulate the information about the victims. Perhaps not so surprisingly, almost 75 percent of the victims of such crimes are girls between 13 to 15 years of age.
Who are online predators?
Online predators are adult online users who target younger or underage children for sexual or other abusive purposes. They use internet, social media and communication technologies to locate, target and victimize adolescents.
How do they operate?
The online predators use chat rooms, blogs, dating apps, social networking sites, emails and other websites to find their targets and get familiar with their hobbies and likings through their profiles. They seduce them through flattery, courtesy, attention, and even with gifts. First, they groom your child and make them feel comfortable and involved with them. Gradually, they include sexual content into the conversation or share sexually explicit material that may show children engaged in sexual activities with an intention to convince the target that such behavior is acceptable. Once the kid loses his/her consciousness, they start sexually exploiting them. If the kid tries to cut off communication, they convince them to continue the relationship emotionally blackmailing them or threatening to tell their parents what they have been doing online.
What are the signs your child is in contact with a predator?
Here are the signs that your kid is being lured by an online child predator.
Disconnecting talk or changing screen when parents are within sight
When a child is doing something they know it to be wrong, they will get nervous and start making changes to the screen they are using seeing their parents or siblings coming to them. Usually, teens like to hide their conversation with friends and their internet browsing history but if your kid continuously has something to hide, they might have an inappropriate relationship with someone they think their parents would not allow.
Spending more time using phone or computer
Undoubtedly, we all love to use the internet but our teens’ liking for the internet is more severe. If your kid uses a lot of time using the internet, it does not always mean that they are in contact with an online child predator, but it increases the possibilities that your kid could be exposed to inappropriate content or persons.
Having false or secondary email or social media accounts
It is important for you to be aware of your child’s social media and mailing accounts so you stay updated on what your kid’s social media activities are and with whom he/she is connected. If your child has another social media or email account that he/she does not want to share with you, it is a sign that there is something your kid wants to hide.
Getting gifts from unknown sources
If your kid is receiving gifts from sources not known to the parents, it means you are not aware of your kid’s current activities. You must know who has sent the flower bouquet and with whom your kid is talking to. Sometimes, kids feel shy to tell parents about their new love interest, but it is important for their security that you know every person they meet and have some relation.
Online predators lure teens with gifts, flattery and showing affection to them. They try to create a wedge between kids and parents with an intention to convince the target to meet in person and keep the matter private. This is the hard moment for both parents and kids. Parents must take responsibility in order to make sure their teen is not involved in any kind of hectic activities and not burn their child into ashes. Never provide the chance to kids think to get out of the home sooner or later.
How to protect your child from online predators?
Whether your kid is in contact with an online predator or not, you need to take protective steps to ensure the safety of your kid. The given steps can be helpful in protecting your kid from online child predators.
Have discussion with your kid
The first thing should be the discussion between you and your kid about potential online risks. Talk and ask open-ended questions to your kid about online predators and warn them about the tactics used by these bullies.
Place computer somewhere visible
Give your kid facility of computer and internet but remember not to place it in your kids’ private room. Also, pay attention to the use of the internet-enabled mobile devices.
Follow age restrictions
Some websites and applications do not allow you to use them if you are above 13 or 18 years. Make sure your kid follows age restrictions and does not use adult apps and sites.
Here is a short anime funny video trying to spread the same message to goof a predator.
SO “Why don’t you go after guys your own age?” It is really a lesson for predators to get ashamed of.
Limit time spent online
Limit and monitor the amount of time your teens spend on the mobile phone, computer, and the internet. The more time they spend online, the more odds will be of fronting an online predator.
Strengthen your relationship
Be the one with whom your child feels comfortable sharing everything. Start asking questions about how they spend their day; what new things they learned; with whom they met. It will help you to be aware if your child meets someone risky whether online or offline, so you can take defensive steps to ensure their safety.
Use parental control software
With mobile phone monitoring and computer monitoring software, parents can keep an eye on the internet and social media activities performed by their offspring. They can read conversations and listen to calls made or received by the child; view the internet browsing history and time and duration of using certain website; discover photos and videos stored on the hard drive of their smartphone. The GPS location tracker helps you to locate your child and get notified when it enters in a restricted or unsafe area.
The great thing about these applications is that you can monitor almost everything your kid doing on media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Viber, Line and even some risky social mobile phone apps including Tinder and Kik. You can track the emails received and sent by them using Gmail, and get their email keystrokes and password keystrokes.
Hope you would have found this post helpful in identifying online child predators, their tactics and the ways to kick them out of your kid’s life. Keep visiting us to stay updated about the issue and ways to protect your children and ensure their safety all the time.