Recognizing the Warning Signs: Kids Targeted by Online Predator

Reshmita Das | February 13, 2024

How to recognize online predators

Imagine this: You get out of bed at night to check on your child. Suddenly, you find her wide awake with her laptop open. As soon as she notices you, she quickly closes the laptop, and her face goes pale. Your heart races as you realize an online predator might be targeting your child. As a parent, it's a nightmare scenario you never want to face. But the truth is, it's more common than you might think. 

According to the Child Crime Prevention And Safety Centre:

  • A whopping 500,000 online predators are active every day. 

  • 50% of victims of online sexual exploitation fall within the age of 12 to 15. 

  • 89% of sexual advances happen in internet chatrooms or through instant messaging.

  • In more than a quarter of reported incidents, online predators ask kids for explicit photos. 

These statistics might sound alarming, but they highlight the importance of being aware of online dangers and taking proactive steps to protect our children from online predators. 

Who are online predators? Online predators are people who use the internet to target and exploit children and teens. They often disguise their true identities and intentions to gain the trust of their victims. 

They pose a significant threat to children and teens because they can manipulate, groom, and coerce them into engaging in harmful activities such as sharing personal information, sending explicit photos, or meeting in person. This can lead to emotional trauma, physical harm, and even abduction or exploitation. 

In this blog, we'll explore the characteristics of online predators, learn how to identify the red flags and discuss ways to keep our kids safe in the digital world. So, grab a cup of coffee and let's get started.

Common Traits of Online Predators

Online predators use deceit to establish connections with unsuspecting children and teens across various platforms like social media, chat rooms, and gaming sites. For example, a predator might pose as a fellow gamer to befriend a child on an online gaming platform, gradually grooming them for exploitation. Similarly, they might masquerade as a sympathetic peer on social media, exploiting the vulnerabilities of their targets. 

Regardless of the platform, online predators exploit the naivety and trust of young individuals. By understanding these common traits and tactics, we, parents, can better recognize the warning signs and protect our children from falling victim to these dangers. 

  1. Charming Demeanor: Predators can be smooth talkers, making them seem friendly and approachable.

  2. Sympathetic Nature: They may pretend to understand and sympathize with children's feelings and problems.

  3. Flattery Tactics: Predators use compliments to manipulate and gain children's trust.

  4. Age and Gender: Typically, they're males over 25, often seen as the quiet neighbor.

  5. Social Isolation: Loner types with few friends, usually single, keeping to themselves.

  6. Limited Social Skills: While shy with adults, they're more inclined to be chatty with young people.

  7. Job Choice: They often work around children, like coaches, teachers, or janitors.

  8. Manipulation Tactics: They might use deception to access personal information photos or manipulate children into meeting them offline.

  9. Inappropriate Content: Predators may engage in explicit conversations or share inappropriate content.

  10. Secrecy: They encourage secrecy and create an illusion of safety while hiding their true identity and intention.

While the following traits can indicate online predators, it's important to remember that not all individuals who exhibit these characteristics are necessarily predators. At the same time, there may be exceptions, and this list is not exhaustive. 

How Online Predators Groom Their Victims

Grooming - a deceptive tactic employed by online predators, is a severe threat to our children's safety in today's digital landscape. Childnet describes grooming as "someone who befriends a child online and builds up their trust with the intention of exploiting them and causing them harm". 

Online predators start by building trust through seemingly harmless interactions. They might ask personal questions, show excessive interest in their victim's hobbies or problems, or even offer gifts or favors. Through these actions, predators gradually bond with their target, creating a false sense of intimacy and understanding.

Once trust is established, predators use grooming to isolate their victims from their support systems - family and friends. They may sow seeds of doubt about the victim's relationships or convince them that their online connection is the only one that truly understands them. This isolation makes it easier for predators to manipulate their victims into engaging in risky behaviors, such as sending explicit photos or videos, or even meeting in person.

Some grooming messages and scenarios that you and your child should be aware of:

  1. Personal Questions: "What's your favorite color? What school do you go to? Do you have any siblings?"

  2. Shared Interests: "Wow, I love that game too! We should play together sometime."

  3. Compliments: "You're so talented! I bet you're really popular at school."

  4. Sympathy and understanding: "I'm sorry to hear you're having a tough time. I'm here for you if you need someone to talk to."

  5. Secrets and Confidences: "I trust you, so I'll share something personal with you. Can you keep it between us?"

  6. Gifts and Favors: "I got you this gift because you're special to me. It's our little secret."

  7. Manipulative Guilt Trips: "If you really cared about me, you'd do this for me. Don't you want to make me happy?"

These messages may seem harmless or even flattering at first glance, but they can be part of a grooming process designed to manipulate and exploit children and teens.

Save Your Child From Online Predators

How to Recognize the Warning Signs of Online Predators

Here are some warning signs you can look out for to recognize if your child may be in contact with an online predator:

  1. Secrecy and Obsession: It could be a red flag if your child becomes unusually secretive or obsessive about their online activities.

  2. Defensiveness: Watch out for signs of defensiveness or anger when you ask about their online friends or activities.

  3. Unknown Phone Calls: Be wary if your child receives or makes phone calls to unknown numbers, especially if they're secretive about it.

  4. Changes in Appearance or Behavior: Pay attention to any sudden changes in your child's appearance, behavior, or mood, as this could indicate they're being influenced by someone online.

  5. Increased Online Time: If your child spends more time online, particularly late at night, it's worth investigating further.

  6. Inappropriate Content: Keep an eye out for any inappropriate or sexual content on your child's devices, as this could be a sign of grooming or manipulation.

How parents can use Mobicip to protect their child from online predators 

Mobicip is the best parental control solution to protect your children from online predators and dangers proactively. With Mobicip, you're monitoring their online activity and actively working together to create a safe and healthy digital environment for your family. Here's how Mobicip can help:

  1. Set screen time and app limits: You can control your child's online time and which apps they can access, helping them develop healthy digital habits.

  2. Filter web content and block apps: You can block inappropriate websites and apps so your child's online experience is safe and age-appropriate.

  3. View activity summary and social media alerts: Stay informed about your child's online activity with detailed reports and alerts. This includes any interactions on social media platforms as well.

  4. Track location and geo-fences: Keep track of your child's whereabouts by setting up geo-fences and receiving alerts when they enter or leave designated areas.

  5. Collaborate with your child and guardians: Have open communication and collaboration by involving your child in setting up rules and boundaries and allowing other guardians to monitor and manage their online activity. This ensures a united effort to keep them safe online.

Mobicip Parental Control App

As we wrap up, it's important for you to remain informed and engaged in your child's online activities. By recognizing the warning signs of online predators, such as secrecy, defensiveness, and changes in behavior, you can proactively take measures to safeguard your child. Remember, communication is key – keep the lines of communication open with your child and encourage them to come to you with any concerns or uncomfortable experiences they may have online.

As a powerful tool in your arsenal, consider using Mobicip to safeguard your child's digital footprint. With its comprehensive features like screen time limits, internet filtering, and social media monitoring, Mobicip enables you to create a more secure online environment for your child.

Take action today by downloading Mobicip and starting a free trial. Your proactive approach can make a difference in keeping your child safe from online predators and other digital dangers. 


How can I talk to my child about online predators?

Start by creating an open and safe space for conversation. Use age-appropriate language to explain the concept of online predators. Emphasize the importance of staying cautious and alert while interacting with people online. To know more, read our guide, How to Talk to Your Children About Online Predators.

How can I report an online predator?

If you suspect your child is in contact with an online predator, act promptly. Save all communications and evidence and block the predator. Report the predator to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) (1-800-843-5678 or online at Contact your local law enforcement and provide them with all relevant information. Also, report the predator to the platform where the interaction occurred, such as social media or gaming sites. You can find more info on how to report at:

What are some of the legal consequences of online predators?

Online predators face severe legal consequences for their actions. Depending on the severity of their offenses, they could be charged with crimes like online solicitation of a minor, possession or distribution of child pornography, or even sexual exploitation. These offenses carry hefty fines, lengthy prison sentences, and mandatory registration as a sex offender. Law enforcement agencies prioritize catching and prosecuting online predators to protect children and prevent future harm.

How can I help my child if an online predator has victimized them?

If an online predator has victimized your child, the most important thing is to offer them love, support, and reassurance. Listen to them without judging and validate their feelings. Report the incident to law enforcement and provide any evidence you have. Seek professional help, such as therapy, to help your child cope with the trauma. Above all, remind them they are not alone and that you will do everything you can to keep them safe.

Where can I find more information and support on online predators?

For more information and support on online predators, turn to reputable resources like the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) website or Childnet. You can also find valuable insights on online safety on Mobicip's blog. Being informed about online dangers will prepare you with the knowledge and tools to protect your child effectively. 

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