Using Internet communication tools such as mobile phones, social networking, online gaming, chat rooms, email, and instant messaging can put children at potential risk of encountering online predators.
The anonymity of the Internet means that trust and intimacy can develop quickly online. Predators take advantage of this anonymity to build online relationships with inexperienced young people.
Children feel they are aware of the dangers of predators, but in reality, they are quite naive about online relationships.
How do online predators work?
- They browse social networking sites, chat rooms, discussion boards and blogs to find children.
- Predators will generally pretend that they are children just to gain your child’s trust. This can happen very quickly.
- They show attention and affection to their targets.
- They know the latest interests and hobbies children have.
- The Internet predator is very patient and will take time to groom his/her target.
- They may gradually introduce sexual content into their conversations or show sexually explicit material.
- They may work towards making face-to-face contact.
How can parents minimize the risk of a child becoming a victim?
- Communicate with your child and pay attention to their behavior.
- Follow and observe the age limits on social networking sites. Most are 13+.
- Talk about sexual predators and potential online dangers.
- Tell your children to never respond to strangers on email, chat, Facebook etc.
- If your children are young, share a family email address.
- Know what chat rooms your children are using.
- Create an online contract with your children on the do's and dont's and post it in the house or near the computer.
- If your child is being targeted, save any documentation, photos, emails, website addresses, chat logs and report it to the Gardai.
- Use a gender neutral name that does not reveal personal information.
- Never reveal personal information about themselves such as name, address, age, gender, family.
- Never leave the chat rooms public areas and have a one-on-one chat. Often referred to as "whisper areas".
- If communications start to contain personal or sexual questions, stop immediately.
- Tell an adult immediately if you feel uncomfortable or frightened.
What can children do?
Read the Facts
EU Kids Online 2011 Survey
Recent News Articles on Internet Predators
WARNING - articles may not be suitable for young children
Sex predators blackmail children online (Irish Examiner - June 2013)
Facebook Predator accused in court (3news - Feb 2013)
Facebook Sexual Predator: Teacher Lured in Boys Using Social Networking (Inquisitr - Feb 2013)
Facebook sex fiend who groomed girl (14) is jailed (Herarld - March 2013)
Judge warns of Internet dangers after schoolgirl, 13, is victim of sex attacks by two separate men she met online - (Daily Mail - June 2013)
Internet predator, 19, who raped girls is 'every parent's worst nightmare' (Telegraph - July 2012)