Our mommy team has come up with an infographic with important information to communicate with your children, especially if they are independently managing their own social media platforms / online interactions without supervision.
Remember – children learn by copying, imitating and observing. If “friends” whom they look up to, or perceive to be “standards” by which they model their behaviour after, children can easily be scammed into revealing personal information, when this could all be a gang working behind the scenes, in tandem.
One of the most frightening things that parents don’t expect is that sexual predators are incredible experts in persuading, guiding and gaslighting children. They are able to quickly assess your child’s character, vulnerability and weaknesses to exploit them and gain their loyalty.
What parents can do is emphasize on certain parameters within which children can try their best to assess and step back from potentially dangerous situations. Children are naturally eager to please, but parents need to emphasize that for online interactions, certain boundaries should be drawn; and it is always okay to say no.
Parents should also try to expose their children to external activities beyond the screen to highlight the different ways their children can enjoy themselves – physical activities, sensory activities, etc.
Another activity parents can do is show children how people can manipulate photographs online. While some examples might be funny, let your children know that sometimes people with bad intentions may modify photographs to trick, threaten or embarrass them.
Identifying Suspicious Activity
For older children (K1 and above), parents can play a simple game of “Spot the Suspicious Question / Statement!” Here are some examples: -
What’s your favourite colour?
What colour is your hair?
What is the name of your school?
What is your mommy’s full name?
Do you like shoes that are pink?
Do you like blue trucks?
Do you know how to send pictures?
Can I show you how to send a picture?
I love eating ice cream. Is there an ice cream shop near your home? Where is it?
Do you want to meet at Macdonald’s today? I have some extra money to buy you your favourite!
I have blue socks, what colour socks do you have? Can you send me a picture of your socks?
How about a picture of your shirt?
How about a picture of your belly button?
I have cards in my wallet. Do you want to see?
Here are pictures of the cards in my wallet, do you have a wallet?
Is your mommy and daddy home today?
Can I visit you? If we play together, won’t it be more fun?
The list goes on and on… bear in mind that an expert sexual predator / scammer would sometimes invest time in getting to know your child well. Let your child know that bad things do happen, so being cautious, is not being rude. Not responding to “simple” questions, is not being stubborn or a “bad” student.
Some scammers / sexual predators may start off by offering your child free things, especially if they have met in an online game. Let your child know that mommy or daddy understand that it is exciting to receive free things, but not if it makes them uncomfortable, or stressed because they cannot respond “in kind” to questions that intrude on their privacy.
Why are you online?
Get your child to consider this question, when he or she encounters a situation he or she is unsure about. Again, emphasize to your child that exiting the situation is perfectly acceptable.
At the end of the day, your child wishes strongly for your acknowledgement and acceptance – their fear of your judgement is often the reason why children do not voice out their worries earlier, so bear this in mind when conversing with your child. Nothing is too scary to tell mommy or daddy. We are always here for you.