There’s nothing more deceitful than having an adult predator infiltrate the safety of your home through your child’s screen. Below we listed some red flags that your teen could be talking to an online predator.
Spending Excessive Time Online During Late Hours
Although predators prowl the internet at all hours of the day, children are at the greatest risk for being exposed to a predator in the evening. This is because most predators work day jobs and navigate the web at night after work. Children who have 24/7 access to the internet through a phone or computer are also more secluded in their room at night when there is no parental supervision.
Constantly Receives Phone Calls and Texts from People you Don't Know
If you see a random name or number keep buzzing your child’s phone, don’t hesitate to ask them who their new friend is, how they met, their name, and where they live.
The New Friend Comes out of the Blue
Predators normally find children and initiate conversation with a simple “hello”, then progress to asking about their age, school, address, etc. Most of the time this person is a new player in an online game or a new follower on social media.
Get Irrationally Upset when they Can’t Get Online
Don’t assume your child is just being a brat when they throw a fit about no internet, there could always be a deeper reason. Victims of online grooming often think the predator is their friend or significant other, because of this they don’t want them to get mad if they aren’t online to chat.
They Switch Screens or Hide Their Phone When you Walk by
Often times, the predator urges the child to keep their relationship a secret or they could be talking about things your child knows is inappropriate. In these cases, they will try and hide what they are doing online when you are around.
They Start to Withdraw from Activities they Once Loved
One tactic a predator does is isolate and separate the child from family, friends, and activities they once enjoyed. They may convince them that their family doesn’t understand them, and then assert that the predator does. This is a trick used on lonely teenagers, especially when they are going through a hard time or may not have many friends.
Gifts Received from Unknown Sources
Predators try to win over teens with gifts, compliments, and faux kindness. They give children their undivided attention, sympathy, and affection. They normally seem too mushy after only a few messages and want to appear as the knight in shining armour.
You Find Pornography on their Device
A study by Crimes Against Children Research Center revealed that 25% of children have been exposed to unwanted pornographic content online. Predators will send a victim pornography to try and normalize and desensitize sex to them.
Turning Normal Conversations Sexual
Predators like to turn average conversations into physical intimacy. They often share explicit photos and videos, and try to convince the victims to engage in pornography or cybersex.
They’re Keeping the Relationship a Secret
Since the predator knows what they are doing is wrong, they have the child promise to keep their relationship a secret. Victims are unlikely to be transparent about their new “friend” with an adult because they feel uncomfortable and because they feel like they are betraying their “friend”.
We should note that just because your child ticks one or two of these boxes doesn’t mean that they are talking to an online predator. However, if they are showing a few of these signs, then you should step in and have an honest conversation with them.
To read more about online safety, click here.