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Cleveland Police Credit: Police Hour

Social media is a powerful tool and used in the right way is a power for good. But we must warn you online grooming is happening and sexual predators are targeting your children online.

One too many children has already died this year as a result of being groomed online and every other day we are hearing reports where children have been contacted on popular social media sites arranged to meet someone and gone missing.

We need to be aware of what our teenagers are doing on social media and Police Hour have put together some tips and advice for parents.

1. Have open conversations with your children

Parents should be able to sit down with their children and learn about technology together. Once your child is on social media you need a plan in place to ensure monitoring. Educating them how to behave safely. Make sure you are aware of which mobile applications they have within their phones as these are the apps that online groomers could be targeting, especially those with messaging services built in.

2. Are your children old enough

You may not be aware but social media has an underage limit for registration to social networking sites. Children must be aged 13 on most social media sites this includes Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

With the dangers of online grooming current, we would advise you not to allow any of your children under the age of 13 access to social media.

3. Information is not that easy to remove

Everything published online follows a digital footprint and it will track your youngster’s life. and it will build up that person reputation and could have a massive impact on future jobs. employers do check this information.

And once that information has been put out there it is impossible to remove even if the original post has been deleted the photos and messages can still be visible online.

5. Don’t share phone numbers

Lots of youngsters have their mobile number visible to the public along with addresses and emails. these are prime targets for online groomers looking for sexual activity with your 13 or 14-year-old son or daughter.

Make sure you check your child’s facebook profiles to see exactly what information they have made public.

6. Don’t accept messages or friend requests from predators

Don’t accept message requests or friend requests from people you don’t know it’s very easy for groomers to take your children in and then begin meeting with them in a real place.  Parents should remind their children not to interact inappropriately with people they do not know, and

Parents should be aware of who your children are interacting with online and have a relationship with them that they’d not be ashamed to tell you if someone interacting inappropriately with them online with people they do not know.

More than often the online groomer is also known to the family already or friends network. It is always important if they are arranging to meet with someone they have met online they meet them with an adult.

Online grooming will never happen to my children

Are you sure? we’d highly recommend you take the steps we have advised as you never believe it will happen to your children.

If you have a story we should be covering then feel free to contact the Police Hour Facebook page or @PoliceHour on Twitter.

 

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