What Is Online Grooming and How Can I Keep My Child Safe?
Online grooming is something every parent needs to be aware of and prepared for. The fact that most children will be on the internet at some point means that we must be aware of the tactics of those who seek to exploit our most vulnerable. Here are some facts to be aware of as you work to keep your child safe from those who would want to harm them. What Is Online Grooming? Online grooming is when someone with nefarious motives attempts to gain the attention and trust of their victim, in order to abuse and exploit them. Online grooming includes actions such as building an emotionally close relationship with a child, making the child feel like they can trust them, and saying things that will help them gain access to the child. Be Aware of Your Child’s Online Activities Although most of us have good intentions toward our children, there is a world of people who do not. For this reason, it is important to keep tabs on what exactly your child is doing online, and with whom they are interacting. Instead of figuratively going beyond your child’s back, let them know that you will be monitoring their activities and interactions on all their devices. Check their email, social media accounts, and online profiles regularly. Have a genuine interest in their online activities and ask them to explain things to you. Keep computers and all other electronic devices in public areas, and have a special recharging station for the devices to be turned in each night so that children are not using the devices inappropriately while you sleep. Install appropriate software on your child’s electronic devices so that you can see what they are using their devices for. There is even software that will keep track of conversations deemed to be inappropriate, which will then red-flag the conversation and notify you as the parent. Be Aware of Unusual Behaviour If your child is acting in an unusual manner, there is a possibility that they are being groomed online. Keep your eyes open for changes in their personality, including depression and secretiveness. If your child quickly shuts down their device when you appear, find out why. If your child suddenly acquires a new device that they could not have paid for themselves, determine where it came from. Online predators will often purchase separate devices so that a child can communicate with them without being found out by a parent or authority figure. Build and Maintain a Strong Relationship with Your Child The most important defence against online predators you can have is to work on a strong relationship with your child. Talk daily with your child, even if their favourite time to talk is when they are supposed to be headed to bed. Listen to the small things, because when something crucial happens they will then be comfortable communicating with you about it. Keeping children safe in today’s world can be stressful. We as parents have a duty to do what we can to keep their safety first and foremost. Use these tips and educate yourself about online grooming so that your child can avoid harm in this area of their life.