In order to stay safe from online predators, you need to recognize and guard yourself against their tactics. These tips will help you spot, report, and ultimately avoid online predators before they can harm you or anyone else.
It’s Not Flattering—It’s Illegal
Having an older person target you to date by using the internet is not flattering, cute, or funny—it’s illegal and usually a trick. Don’t talk with people like this or allow them to view your information (even as a “joke”). And definitely don’t agree to meet these people in real life.
Online predators are con-men and con-women. They’re experts at saying the right things to make you reveal just enough information about yourself without realizing it. You might feel like you’re in complete control, but that’s exactly how they want you to feel so that they can earn your trust and use it to manipulate you.
Know the Signs
Online predators come in many forms, but there are many ways to spot them. The clearest warning signs of dealing with an online predator can include, but are not limited to: they avoid telling you their age, they seem “too good to be true”, try to convince you to meet up, ask for explicit images or texts, and pressing for personal information. Even if the person only exhibits one of these signs – take immediate action. These are all signs of a predator.
The first step to defeating online predators seems so simple – just block them! However, online predators know that potential victims won’t block them because they’re afraid of making someone mad or hurting someones feelings. Don’t fall into this trap. You can also help protect yourself and others by blocking, and then reporting these people to your parents and/or police.
Some teenagers feel too embarrassed to report encounters with online predators, as if they should be able to handle it themselves. But remember, it’s not just about you—you could be protecting others from becoming victims. Think about it this way—if you knew there was a thief in your neighborhood, you would call the police or let another person know immediately. Predators online are no different.
You might also feel as though you don’t want to tell your parents about what you’ve experienced online, either out of embarrassment or because you think they won’t understand. Even if you think your parents can be lame sometimes, what they want more than anything in the world is to help keep you safe. Keep that in mind!
We can defeat online predators!
Always remember that nothing online is “just talk”. Online predators use conversations to make you feel comfortable until you let personal info slip out. Don’t engage with anyone online whose identity you can’t confirm with 100% certainty, and don’t continue aimless conversations with strangers. Its surprising how little a predator needs to know about you in order to gather more personal information on their own.