When it comes to Internet safety there are few things more important to watch for than online groomers. An online groomer is an adult who attempts to build a relationship with a child online in the hopes of getting them to meet in person where they can be exploited. They often enjoy this grooming process so they are very patient and may take months or even longer building up trust until they can finally convince them to meet in person where they will often sexually abuse their victims.
It can be very difficult to identify when someone is attempting to groom a child, but by watching out for certain behaviors and taking the time to carefully monitor a child’s online activity it is possible to keep them safe. While each predator will behave slightly differently, the behavior in the victim is often very similar. Watching for these five signs in a child can clue parents, teachers or other adults in to the fact that they may be being groomed by an online predator.
Child NEEDS to Spend Time Online
While just about all kids enjoy spending time on their computers or mobile devices, many victims of online grooming feel they MUST get online to communicate with their groomer. This is often because the individual doing the groomer will make them feel extremely guilty if they don’t get online on a very frequent basis.
Sudden Change in Relationship with Parents
Almost every predator will attempt to drive a wedge between parents and children. While it is certainly natural for kids and parents to fight and argue, this will be different. When a child begins to be distrustful of their parents and has a change in what would be considered the normal parent-child relationship it can be cause for concern.
New Online Relationship
Many online predators will pose as another teenager in an attempt to gain the child’s trust. When kids develop an online relationship with someone they don’t know in person it is important to investigate. While many kids have normal friendships with other kids online, it can be risky if parents allow their kids to engage in these types of relationships without carefully monitoring them.
In some cases the groomer will send the child gifts either in the mail or online gifts such as apps for their phone or items for a game they play. If the child can’t or won’t explain who got them the gift, and why, it is a cause for concern.
Child is Very Secretive
When a child is overly secretive while online or on the phone it can be something to investigate. Kids typically don’t want their parents checking on them, but when they are actively lying or hiding things they do on the computer or mobile devices it is time to look into what is going on.
One of the biggest problems parents face when concerned with online grooming is that most of these types of behaviors are common and even normal to an extent. It is when they get excessive that they can be a major cause for concern. The best thing parents can do is keep a close eye on their children’s Internet activity both on computers and mobile devices.