Explainers

5 Surprising Online Predator Statistics and Strategies to Deal With Them

March 22nd, 2019

The Internet is a miraculous. Without it, the world would be exceedingly bleak.

But as with any tool, it can be abused by those looking to harm others. This is particularly important when considering children who have access to the Internet.

Online predators are a very real danger in 2019, and you need to know how to protect your kids from them. Following are steps you can take to do just that.

What Predators Actually Do

Before we begin, it’s important to understand predators’ tactics.

They seek to bond with the vulnerable: young people who suffer from low self-esteem, skewed body image, or those who feel like they have nobody to talk to about their problems.

Over time, predators use this relationship as leverage to get what they want. While this varies from case to case, common scenarios can include:

  • Sending explicit texts/photographs
  • Sending them money
  • Meeting up with them in person

It’s also not uncommon for predators to use personal information the victim shared with them to blackmail the victim into satisfying these requests.

Let’s move on to stats about predators, their tactics and how to combat them.

1. Predators Take Advantage of Online Gaming Communities

Given that many game developers target younger audiences, predators have hundreds of thousands of children to choose from when looking for a victim.

What starts as a friend request on a gaming server can turn into an occasional conversation and, eventually, daily exchanges. In extreme scenarios, the victim forms a comfortable bond with the predator and is open to sending photos and meeting in person.

What to Do About It

While it’s unfeasible to monitor every second of your children’s online gameplay, make sure they understand that they should never give out any personal information to someone they meet online.

Predators often pose as younger kids, so it’s best to limit contact to people your child knows in real life.

2. Almost All Predator Contact Happens Through Direct Messaging

Predator-victim relationships start by building trust from the ground up. Since it wouldn’t make sense for the predator to immediately ask for the victim’s phone number, the conversation generally takes place over direct messaging (DM).

This can include receiving messages from a predator over Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

What to Do About It

Education is key here. Tell your children they should never converse with anyone they don’t know, even if the person’s profile looks legitimate. Verify any claims of familiarity before accepting them.

If your son or daughter suddenly seems withdrawn and hides/uses their phones or computers more than normal, you may need to investigate.

3. Children Aged 12 to 15 Are Most Vulnerable

This age group is one where young people begin to become more secretive and demand more personal space. We all remember this phase.

Predators seek victims around this age because they’re likely to be suffering from the negative side-effects of adolescence: feeling like a misfit, seeking affirmation, etc.

What to Do About It

If you have kids around this age, let them know you’re willing to listen anytime they need to discuss something. The more open you are with them, the more likely they are to approach you instead of a stranger when they have a problem.

Also, tell them the signs to watch out for when having online conversations. Unsolicited compliments from strangers? That’s a red flag, and if you’re children can recognize it, they’ll be better able to steer clear of danger.

4. There Are Half a Million Predators Online Every Day

There are approximately 500,000 predators active online each and every day.

They’re spread out across all corners of the web—social media, gaming servers, and online forums are all places where predators go to look for their next victim.

What to Do About It

Teach your children safe browsing habits, including not talking to online strangers and knowing the warning signs of grooming. Make sure they know they can talk to you about anything. Listen to them. And consider increasing the level of privacy on the computer your children use.

5. Meetings between victim and predator are typically voluntary

Approximately 83 percent of victims who physically encounter their predator do so after having made a conscious decision to go meet the person pursuing them.

What to Do About It

Make sure your children know it’s never okay to visit with anyone they meet online or to give out their own personal information to a stranger.

Thinking About Online Predator Risks Can Seem Difficult

But it doesn’t have to be.

With the above information about online predator statistics in mind, you are better able to keep your children safe as they search the web and play games.

Want to learn more about how to keep your kids safe? This resource has everything you need to know.

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