The Dangers of Grooming

Every parent stresses about what their kids do on the internet, are their fears valid? The answer is yes. Many kids get groomed on the internet. Grooming is the act of someone befriending a minor usually to manipulate them for various reasons, usually sexual. Many people have been groomed without even knowing it, especially younger kids whose parents let them use the internet unsupervised. 

Groomers can use their age or knowledge to get to know the children and get them to send illicit photos or messages. Many people who are groomed or have been groomed, don’t even realize it. They can go months or years never knowing that they were victims. 

Internet sites like Omegel and Kik were very popular when I was younger, but they were also full of child predators, and they still are. Any site where people can chat privately can be very dangerous. 

The signs of being groomed can include but are not limited to being secretive about what they are doing on the internet, spending more or less time on the internet than normal, having expensive gifts or money that they can’t and won’t explain, and much more. 

The effects of grooming can range from anxiety and depression, eating disorders, self-harm, and drug abuse. Being groomed can make a child feel dirty or make them feel like they are cornered into silence. 

Parents, this does not mean you should freak out and go through all of your children’s phones and computers. That would make them hate you. Instead, tell your child or teenager about internet safety and make sure they are able to trust you with everything. If your child is talking to older people and they tell you about it, report and block the person or delete the site. 

Anyone of any age can be harmed on the internet, so it’s always a good idea to avoid talking to people you don’t know.