Let’s face it, most children this day and age know how to work a computer. In addition to this, nearly all of them have a social media account or know how to access one. So, the chances that your child will meet individuals online that aren’t who they say they are increases each time they turn on their laptops or access the Internet from their mobile phones.
Online grooming is a term that is used in order to describe individuals who go online to befriend children. They then take advantage of them, mostly for sexual pleasures or favours.
It is common for parents to worry about the possibility of their children becoming victims of social grooming. Hence, it is important to know how to keep them safe.
Research shows that 58 % of parents are concerned about their children going online.
“It’s easy to pretend to be someone else on the internet, so children can sometimes end up having conversations with people whose real identities they may not know”.
How social groomers gain children’s trust
Social groomers, just like children, have access to an array of different social networking sites. Social groomers normally go to a site that is popular amongst the youth. They then pretend to be younger than they are in an attempt to gain children’s trust. They can sometimes achieve this by faking their profile picture, pretending to share the same interests as the children or promising gifts and rewards for their communication.
Once the social groomer has gained someone’s trust, they direct the “small talk” towards experiences, namely sexual experiences. Some groomers may even request inappropriate pictures from children or ask the children to meet them somewhere in person.
How can a parent recognize if their child is a victim of social grooming?
Social grooming is not always easy to recognise, however here are a few aspects that may show your child is being socially groomed
- They want to spent more time online
- They are very secretive of who they are chatting to
- They don’t like you looking at what they are busy with online
- They use sexual language you have never taught them
If you feel your child is the victim of social grooming it is very important to talk to them and be open about the dangerous that it can have. Allow them to speak freely and without judgement. Remember the first step to fixing the problem is having them trust you enough to admit that they have one.