What does it mean when someone is “grooming” your child online? Since the internet age began, “grooming” means changing a person’s personality and mindset through web content. “Grooming” existed before the internet age too, and that was in the form of activities in schools, sports clubs, social clubs, and church or other social gatherings. However, in the internet age, grooming online tends to take complete control of one’s life. It is very easy for predators to do! Shocking as it may seem, adults groom kids by befriending them, to gain their trust enough to harm them sexually and physically. This is where cellphone monitoring apps come in handy for the parents.
The Way Groomers Work
In some countries like the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Canada, U.K and the U.S.A, there is a law about grooming as a crime. Sadly, even then there is no stopping these perpetrators. They target unsuspecting and naïve kids through chats on social media e.g. Facebook messenger and other IM chats like WhatsApp, Viber, KIK, LINE, or Skype. Sometimes, they find their targets in forums, game rooms, or from websites. Kids have a curious mind and parents cannot control everything to prevent their kids from visiting sensitive sites. These groomers begin by getting close to the kid, to make them connect. They create the need to talk about personal details. The most common approach is talking about the latest music, clothing, sports, games, and trendy topics.
The next step after establishing a connection is winning the kid’s trust. It’s not that difficult to win a kid. One important tactic that groomers use is listening. Teenaged kids are the perfect target because they feel like misfits and neglected or misunderstood people. Predators capitalize on this and listen to them. They sympathize and share their worries, making their victims trust them. The trust then leads to constant communication and after several weeks, they test the waters.
Predators start sharing sex jokes or flatter their victims. The predators say things that their target wants to hear, and every kid has a different receptive level. The sole purpose of all this is to get the kid to be so dependent on them that they agree to meet them face-to-face. Upon achieving that, they molest the kid and do sickening things to them. Consequently, the kids become constant victims of blackmail and cyberbullying.
Signs of Grooming to Look For in Kids
You can know if someone is grooming your kid by noticing behavioral changes. Here are some clues:
- Your kid turns off the screen whenever you come close to their smartphone
- You kid talks to someone and is secretive about who they are
- Your kid is keeping secrets about places he or she visits
- Your kid has suddenly started wearing revealing clothes
- There is a change in language that you cannot explain
- They have less time for their usual friends and extracurricular activities
- It seems as if their phone controls their lives
Most importantly, all these changes manifest suddenly. That’s where parents need to have a heads-up.
Ensuring Child Protection from Groomers
The most important thing any parent can do for the safety of their kids is to educate them about online safety. Parents have to teach their kids to be SMART. Here’s what that entails:
S – Safe. This means the kid should not share personal information with strangers online. This includes information such as home address, date of birth, phone number, school, etc.
M – Meeting. Parents must make sure they educate their kids about not meeting random strangers, especially alone. They must never go anywhere to meet a stranger without informing the parents.
A – Accepting. It is crucial that parents put down rules that the kids should not accept random requests or invitations to forums. Most importantly, they must not open emails with any attachments.
R – Reliable. Kids are curious and parents must educate them about unreliable information online. Not everything they read is true and not everything people say is true either.
T – Tell. One important approach parents need is encouraging kids to tell them everything. They have to make their kids feel comfortable enough to talk about everything.
In addition to these protective measures, parents can use a cellphone spying app to know what goes on in the cell phones of their kids. You can screen activity on Facebook messengers, Tinder, Instagram, and other internet messengers. WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, KIK, and LINE may have encryption but with an app like xnspy, parents can get constant updates. Parents can know where their kids are; listen to recorded calls and record ambient discussions. Keeping a close eye on whom kids speak to and what they share with their contacts is a good parenting decision.
You can also track the browser history to know what content the kid finds interesting and frequently visits. A mobile spying app offers several remote monitoring features that enable parents to keep their kids safe online. Even from several miles away, the parents can protect their kids by monitoring their cell phone activity.