We all know to warn our children against strangers in the street, possibly calling them to come have a sweet by their vehicle. But, do we know to warn them against online grooming?
What is online grooming, you ask?
It’s the guy with the car and packet of sweets, but with a much more deadlier and sneakier modus operandi. It is where your child is “groomed” into trusting the individual, using various platforms, such as Facebook, Online gaming portals, and chat rooms.
Yes, the ‘groomer’, for want of a better word, will have to take his/her time, and possibly snatching your kid on the street may prove quicker. But, nowadays, we are more aware of protecting them out there in the big bad physical world. We are not so adept at, or even aware, that we need to do this in the online world.
Online grooming is a scary reality.
How do these Predators groom your kids?
- They befriend the child, normally posing as another child their age
- They create a friendship where your child will think they can trust them
- They put thoughts into their head, so that they think their own family is against them
- They make promises of gifts, a better lifestyle, and anything that will lure them to reach out in the real world
- They can be understanding and always in agreement to your child’s complaints and gripes
- And, they will intrigue their natural sexual interest
What can you do to warn your child against online grooming?
- Tell them not to go to private chat rooms or message online users privately in any manner
- Not to accept gifts from anyone online
- Not to use the webcam with anyone they don’t know personally i.e. as in friends that you know too
- Not to meet any online user unless you, the parent, has approved, and that it must be at your own house, when you’re around. They should also not give out their physical address or private cell phone number
- They should stop connecting with that person if they speak about anything sexual in nature
- They should also stop chatting if that person asks to see pictures of them naked or anything sexual in nature
- Make sure you record all their online chats, including their online games. Then you can see what is being said and done
- Check your child’s phone regular for connections with anyone you don’t know. In addition, check the photos they are taking. It is also best to tell your child you will be checking regularly, at any given moment
- Add monitoring apps to your child’s devices, so you can see who they are chatting to, what apps they are downloading, and what images they are sending and downloading
- Don’t be afraid or too cautious to approach your child when you are suspicious. The sulky face and slammed door is much better than wondering where you child is.
Children don’t think like we adults do. They can be extremely trusting, and especially when they are not happy with a situation at home, or with you, the parent.
Constant communication is vital with any age child. As our kids are going online more often lately than ever before, they are vulnerable to these predators and online grooming.