How Online Predators Bait Children
💻🎣6 WAYS online predators bait and attack your child online and 10 simple things parents can do to help keep their child safe.
😱Stolen private information, blackmail, damaged reputation, credit card compromised,… Online predators CAN and WILL attack your child if they are given the chance.
📲Parents need to know HOW predators are baiting children so they can properly make their online rules and teach their children steps to safety.
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How Online Predators Bait Children
How are my kids getting scammed?!?!
“What, Mom? I didn’t know,” says the kids.
Extra charges on the bill, suspicious emails, photos of half-naked young people, the credit card being compromised, the computer has a virus or is hacked, crying teenagers, damaged reputations… HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?
Today I will tell you HOW your child is getting scammed online right now, and they don’t even know it.
Hello, my name is Kristina Campos. I am the founder of the Impactful Parent. Every week I give you parenting videos that can help you in your parenting journey. If you have a particular topic or parenting question about your school-aged child that you would like me to address, please submit it at [email protected] or by messaging me on social media. All submissions are kept anonymous.
Today, I will talk to you about the most common online dangers. I will explain the tactics these bad-intentioned people are using to victimize your child because these manipulative and sneaky tactics are completely unexpected by the average teen. Then stick around to the end because I will also give you steps for keeping your child as safe as possible! Let’s get started!
Online poses many dangers and exposure to things our kids shouldn’t see. I have broken down most of the online dangers into 5 categories:
- Damaged reputations
- Sexual Predators
- Exposure to sexual content
- Private information compromised
Most parents are aware of these dangers, but it is also important for parents to know HOW kids are getting compromised so that you can set parental controls, and rules, teach children the dangers, and know what to look out for as a red flag. In my opinion, it is NOT wise to cross my fingers and hope that a predator won’t find my kid. Instead, impactful parents are proactive about avoiding dangers. So, let’s talk about HOW online predators are baiting children to get them to do what they want.
How Online Predators Bait Children #1: They pose as a child your child’s age or a little bit older.
Whenever we meet someone new online, we have no idea who is on the other side. These people are lying to your children because it’s easy, and they can. Your child is vulnerable because kids feel invincible and trust too easily. The perpetrator will start off slow and manipulate your child by gaining trust before they start to ask anything that would set off a red flag. However, with time your child trusts the relationship more and more. Predators will send fake or real nude photos and ask for photos back. They may pressure your child to engage in cyber sex and secretly record the conversation. The perpetrator may use photos and conversations that your child has given to blackmail your child into sending money, more images, or to meet the perpetrator for sexual acts.
The scariest thing about a stranger posing as a young person to manipulate children is that many of the perpetrators acquire the sexual images by deceit or even without the victim’s consent. That means that your child doesn’t even realize they are being used and being victimized.
Another important fact is that most sex exploitation threats come from people your child already knows. That means don’t take comfort in thinking your child is safe if they only talk to people they know online. The danger for strangers versus familiars is the same.
How Online Predators Bait Children #2: They get your child to click on a link.
Phishing is when an attacker sends a fraudulent email, text, or direct message to trick a person into giving out their personal information or to deploy malicious software on the victim’s electronic device. Your kid doesn’t have to be dumb, naïve, or clueless to fall for this. In fact, many people fall victim to phishing tactics because these manipulative messages look legit. It might appear that the message came from a friend even though it did not. The attacker will pose as someone you know. The messages themselves are very professional looking, may have logos, or have manipulative language that says things like, “I think you’re in this video!” These emails or messages have wording that sparks kids’ attention and activates their emotions such as fear, excitement, and wonder. Since kids act upon their emotions more easily than their logic, many children don’t think twice before clicking on the link that will send them to a legitimate-looking login page requesting their information or a dummy site that allows hackers access to their electronic device.
How Online Predators Bait Children #3: They promise gifts.
This tactic is used by sexual offenders, cyberbullies, and even big corporations. Your child will get an email, text, or social media message offering them free products or services. Maybe they bait your child with free music downloads, discounts on their favorite purchases, free porn, something to level up their game, … whatever they think your child would like. The predators will ask your child to click a link or give their personal information to retrieve their free gift. The malware the predator installs when your child clicks can steal files, track their actions, access their device camera, and take their personal information. The result is personal information stolen or a hacked electronic device.
Another thing to consider is how social media manipulates your child’s personal information as well. To sign up for social media accounts, you must give basic personal information. From there, most social media companies will put products your child might like into their social feed and lure them into clicking on their interests. Once your child clicks, the social media companies will track how often your child pauses, clicks, and scrolls. This information is extremely valuable, and companies will sell this information to advertisers who pay for the chance to get in front of your child’s eyes. All these companies want your child to stay on their device indefinitely and will purposefully create content and algorithms that spark social media addiction. These companies are targeting your child purposefully for their own gain, and some of the content they are putting in front of your child is inappropriate.
How Online Predators Bait Children #4: They will claim to have hacked you.
Could it be true? Yes. Suppose your child has already given them personal information and have clicked a link. In that case, the threat might be real, but other predators just pretend to have hacked the child’s computer or phone to blackmail the child for money, sexual photos, threats, or whatever the perpetrator might want. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if the predator is lying or telling the truth because they have already gotten enough personal information from your child to get a password. Then perpetrators use the password as evidence of their hacking threat. The predator uses the hacking lie to pressure your child into doing things they shouldn’t.
How Online Predators Bait Children #5: They claim to be a modeling agency.
This tactic works more often than you might think. Many kids dream of fame, the opportunity to be a model, money, acceptance, and teens especially love to hear they are beautiful because deep down inside, they are very insecure. The perpetrator might ask for more photos from your child to build a modeling portfolio. They will flood your child with compliments and empty promises. In the end, your child might give the predator revealing photos, or the predator may edit innocent photos to make them sexually explicit.
How Online Predators Bait Children #6: They take the first step and hope your child will follow their lead.
This tactic is very popular among predators, hackers, and cyberbullies. The perpetrator will encourage your child to reciprocate an act. This tactic is oddly effective because the perpetrator gains your child’s trust by doing the act first. For example, a perpetrator may send a semi-nude photo over to your child and ask for one in return. (I will show you mine if you show me yours.) The perpetrators’ requests usually start small and innocent. When there are no repercussions from the first act, the perpetrator makes the next request. Your child might be getting groomed for dangerous and illegal acts, and they don’t even realize it because the progression seems innocent.
Remember that this tactic is often used between boyfriends and girlfriends in relationships too. “I will show you mine if you show me yours” is a common way to flirt and explore sexuality for kids. But what happens when the relationship has ended?
How can parents prevent their children from becoming a target?
- First of all, stop asking, “What age is the best time to give my child a phone?”
It isn’t about the age of your child that tells you about the readiness for your child to have a small computer in their pocket. Instead, look at the child’s maturity and when YOU, the parent, are ready to start monitoring and teaching your child about the online world.
I know 9-year-olds that can handle the responsibility of phones and 16-year-olds that can’t. You must gauge your child’s maturity to follow the rules and make good choices. The first mistake many parents make is exposing their children to the online world before the child, or the parent is ready.
- Teach children to never send nude or sexy images/videos to ANYONE.
- Teach children the red flags of clicking and putting their email or personal information into a website, app, or landing page.
- Teach children to be suspicious of any link that asks them to just click here.
- Teach children to bring any suspicious activity or messages to you or another trusted adult for help. Parents can look at the website and help kids determine if the links are safe or a scam.
- Teach children to screenshot and save anything that feels off. Tell your child to trust their gut and NOT to delete. Suppose blackmailing or cyber bullying occurs in the future. In that case, you and your child will be grateful that they didn’t delete the evidence.
- Encourage your child to make all their social media accounts private.
- Use parental controls and monitoring tools to help filter inappropriate content, unsafe websites, malware links, and other destructive content.
- Teach kids that nothing is free. Encourage kids to ask themselves, “What do they really want from me?” Not everyone is a scammer, but it’s important to teach kids to be cautious. Many kids are simply too naïve. They either think they are invincible, “this won’t happen to me,” or they don’t see the danger. We want to encourage our children to ask questions, be observant, and figure out the angle.
- Give your child a phone that doesn’t have social media or internet access. I recommend the Gabb Wireless phone and watches. These devices look like a smartphone but without the dangers of online strangers. I have Gabb Wireless devices for my own children. If you want to know more, check out gabbwireless.com/promo/IMPACTFULPARENT, and the best part is- that link will also give you a discount code if you decide to get one for your own kiddo too.
I hope this episode brought you value. Keep your child safe by talking to your child about what was said today. I make my kids hear this lecture too.
“Give me back my phone,” my child will scream, but I won’t give it back until they hear me out.
Of course, this lecture comes with a price of lots of moans and groans and “I know this! Don’t worry. Not me, Mom! I got this.” But the truth of the matter is- Impactful Parents tell their kids the facts and educate their children so that the child can make better choices. And yes, most of the time, that “telling” is through the weeds of crossed arms and eye rolls, but I sleep better at night knowing I did my best to educate my children and keep them safe.
If this information was valuable for you today, BECOME a more impactful parent by downloading The Impactful Parent App. The Impactful Parent app is FREE and full of episodes like this one that will help you in your parenting journey. Investing in your family looks like learning the warning signs of certain behaviors so you can stop bad things before they start, discovering new parenting techniques to make your parenting more effective, and joining a community of like-minded parents that also want to be the best parent they can for their child. All this, plus so much more, can be found inside The Impactful Parent app, so download it today. You got nothing to lose with this free parenting resource. Go to theimpactfulparent.com and discover how you can step up your parenting game and be a more impactful parent.
But until next time, you got this, parents. I am just here to help.
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