Hiding behind a keyboard using different genders, names, ages, and ploys, the predator searches Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat, Tic Toc, Instagram; wherever kids are. Whenever you feel that your child is being abused so always call CPS Arizona-type organizations.
Social media is the children’s park, their playground, their place to meet. It is here they play games, share daily events, and complain about parents. They seek advice about boyfriends or girlfriends, school, and whatever is on their minds.
The online predator looks for children who feel unloved, abandoned, unpopular, sad, alone, unwanted. Those are his prey. The truth is, all children are his prey. His target is a child. Any child will do; the more vulnerable the better.
An alert sounds: A boy on Instagram posts #brokenpromise!
The predator responds: “Hey, my father makes promises and never shows up. I hate him!” From here, the predator builds trust, planning a secret meeting.
Posing as a 12-year-old boy on a different site, he posts “#myparentsdivorced. “No one understands. No one gave. I hate myself!” He gets 35 hits.
And on another site, he “confesses” to a child, “You understand me. No one else does ☹. You are the only one I can talk to.” Guilt and manipulation often work. He tells the child he loves her/him and tries to set up a meeting.
The methods of protecting children from online predators shift a bit for adolescents. Teens differ in the quantity and creativity of the drama. They are hormone-driven, rebellious, impulsive, and striving to be independent. The predator forms an alliance by providing understanding and support. He assures them of his love, “Just us against them.” He promises unrealistic fantasies of freedom, sex, and whatever they want. The hook is set!
It’s important to ask your child “what will happen after you meet?” There will be an amber alert, they will have to hide, he will run out of money, he or she may find themself in a ditch. The predator will go to prison.
The predator’s use of guise and deception is limited only by his sick imagination. She/he has no regard for the well-being of children.
Protecting Children from Online Predators:
How Does a Parent Intervene?
The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.
Warnings and lectures are necessary, yet may not be effective in protecting children from online predators. They have heard it. Eyes roll. Children’s ability to remember those warnings “at the moment” goes out with the tide.
Make it a game.
Invite the child to imagine what a bad guy might say to trick a child. Boys may enter that game bearing swords, guns, armies, or Ninjas, stomping the enemy with vigor. “Can you boys spot the bad guy? What does the online bad guy say to trick the boys?”
The predator posts: #videogamesswitch “Looking for kids to test Mario, Animal Crossing, and beta games. Keep games, Xbox, Switch, PS5!” Thousands of dollars of free games and systems are a powerful lure. Ask the kids “why is this a con?”
Here is the catch. The software companies already have testers of their own. Furthermore, any legitimate gaming company finds kids through agencies, schools, and other sources. They would give the name of the corporation sponsoring this and a contact number. More importantly, adults cannot contract with children without a parent’s written consent. The parent would have to contact the corporation and go from there.