If, however, you notice these in the extreme, that's a concern -- no matter the reason. If the concerns below ring true, use some of these strategies to be proactive in protecting your kids -- they'll make your kid safer and help you feel a lot better. First, stay on top of what your kid is doing online by asking them which apps, games, and other tech they use. You saw something on his or her phone or social media. If they're on social media, friend or follow them. Also, sharing sexy pictures or being overtly sexual online leaves an unwanted legacy, with or without creepy adults, so we need to teach kids about being mindful about their digital footprint. Most often, teens engage in relationships with predators willingly, though they often keep them secret. Finally, it's important to teach kids that if someone is asking a kid for sexy pictures or chat, that person is not a friend, no matter how cool or understanding they seem. Also, it makes for a popular article since it plays on parents' fears.
First, stay on top of what your kid is doing online by asking them which apps, games, and other tech they use. Plus, having nude pictures of a minor -- even if you are a minor -- is against the law and teens can get into legal trouble as a result. Phone calls and gifts from unknown people are possible signs. What would you do if someone you didn't know contacted you? Your kid told you. The tricky part is that most tweens and teens withdraw and are sometimes secretive; it's part of their development. It's simply a reason to be aware and know that if someone starts asking for personal information or talking about sexual stuff, it's time to get help from an adult. If your kid's a gamer, use these questions to probe deeper: Take screenshots, save communications, and so on. Some predators initiate sexual talk or request pictures immediately and back off if refused. There's some conflicting research about what ages are most at-risk, but 12 to 15 seems to be prime time , and girls are more frequent victims. Most reveal that they're older -- which is especially appealing to toyear-olds who are most often targeted. It's not the norm, and it's not a reason to be afraid all the time. If, however, you notice these in the extreme, that's a concern -- no matter the reason. They're in it for an immediate result. Find out how they chat -- is it through an app or through their phone's SMS texting? Once they've selected someone, they may begin the grooming phase, which often involves friending the target's contacts, engaging in increasingly personal conversations to build trust, taking the conversation to other platforms like instant messaging , requesting pictures, and finally requesting offline contact. Talk with your kid about the details without making them feel like it's their fault or that they're in trouble. Porn on the device your kid uses might be a sign. Make rules around who they can chat with -- for instance, only people they know in real life. Sometimes, teens egg each other on to pursue contact with strangers online, and it can feel like a game. Any app or online space that allows contact with strangers without moderation or age verification can allow contact between kids and adult strangers. Do you like multiplayer games -- and why? If they're using an app, it won't be easy for you to see it, so ask to do occasional spot checks. Also, it makes for a popular article since it plays on parents' fears.
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