Take screenshots, save communications, and so on. If they're using an app, it won't be easy for you to see it, so ask to do occasional spot checks. Do you like multiplayer games -- and why? If, however, you notice these in the extreme, that's a concern -- no matter the reason. Any app or online space that allows contact with strangers without moderation or age verification can allow contact between kids and adult strangers. Finally, it's important to teach kids that if someone is asking a kid for sexy pictures or chat, that person is not a friend, no matter how cool or understanding they seem. But instead of acting out of fear, arm yourself with the facts so that you can help your kids be smart, cautious, and savvy. Make rules around who they can chat with -- for instance, only people they know in real life.
You saw something on his or her phone or social media. Finally, contact the police. Some predators initiate sexual talk or request pictures immediately and back off if refused. So before they start chatting with anyone online, kids need to know some basic digital citizenship and online privacy information. Of course it's natural to be concerned when your kid goes into an unknown world. The University of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center reports that kids are more likely to pressure each other to send or post sexual content than an adult. Talk with your kid about the details without making them feel like it's their fault or that they're in trouble. The tricky part is that most tweens and teens withdraw and are sometimes secretive; it's part of their development. If they're on social media, friend or follow them. They'll look at social media posts and public chats to learn about the kid first. What would you do if someone you didn't know contacted you? It's simply a reason to be aware and know that if someone starts asking for personal information or talking about sexual stuff, it's time to get help from an adult. Most games meant for kids -- like Roblox and Animal Jam -- have built-in features and settings that are designed to prevent inappropriate comments and chat. Find out how they chat -- is it through an app or through their phone's SMS texting? There's some conflicting research about what ages are most at-risk, but 12 to 15 seems to be prime time , and girls are more frequent victims. Also, it makes for a popular article since it plays on parents' fears. Also, sharing sexy pictures or being overtly sexual online leaves an unwanted legacy, with or without creepy adults, so we need to teach kids about being mindful about their digital footprint. Teens sometimes visit adult sites, chat rooms, and dating apps out of curiosity about sex and romance. Help them set privacy settings to limit the contacts in their games. Do you chat with others while you're gaming? Once they've selected someone, they may begin the grooming phase, which often involves friending the target's contacts, engaging in increasingly personal conversations to build trust, taking the conversation to other platforms like instant messaging , requesting pictures, and finally requesting offline contact. The YISS report also found that two specific kinds of contact -- requests for offline meetings and situations that kids found extremely upsetting -- declined between and Sometimes, teens egg each other on to pursue contact with strangers online, and it can feel like a game. Set rules about times and places for device use -- for example, banning phones and tablets from bedrooms. If, however, you notice these in the extreme, that's a concern -- no matter the reason.
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