Online Sense is ICDL Arabia's philanthropic arm aimed at raising public awareness on Cyber Safety.

Cyber exploitation is the act of abusing online platforms to deceive someone else and/or use their information for personal gain.

Did you know that there are over 750,000 sexual predators online at any given moment?

Did you know that nearly 1 in 5 kids use online chatrooms, which is where the majority of Internet-initiated sex crimes against children are initiated? Did you know that nearly two-thirds of teens in the Middle East region have said they have shared personal information to a stranger online?!

If you are worried about your kid after hearing these statistics, you are certainly reacting the right way. Many adolescents put themselves in great danger when talking to strangers online. They do this without being aware that online predators intentionally access sites that children visit frequently. Their tactics are often hidden, but they often search for people based on location and/or interest.

If a predator talks with you child, they can gather clues from what the child says online. This could include where they go to school, their hobbies and even how close they are from a certain landmark.

What Is Online Grooming?

Online grooming refers to a technique take place over a certain period of time. While online, predators initiate conversations online that appear innocent at the surface level, but eventually lead to some level of fraud or deception. This establishes a relationship to gain a person’s trust, where the predator may initially lie about his age, for example. Often, the groomer will attempt to relate to a child’s interests, by discussing anything from pop culture: new trends, updates on their favourite sports teams, clothes, etc. They may also relate to the child by using their slang: abbreviations, acronyms and newly created words.

These tactics lead to children believing that this online groomer can be trusted and that they can understand their issues better than their parents and teachers. Once the child’s trust develops, the groomer may talk about inappropriate things to test boundaries and exploit a child’s natural curiosity and fantasies. Since adults have more experience, they can now use their age to answer questions in a way that could influence and control their behavior. They also tend to compliment the child excessively and may talk about how they are very mature for their age.

Warning: All of this is done to eventually meet with the child or teenage in person!

Almost all predators will do a combination of these things:

  1. Take advantage of a teen’s personal information and sense of adventure (sometimes romance).
  2. Listen to a child’s insecurities and problems so they can develop a secret relationship.
  3. Exploit natural (and sexual) curiosities
  4. Ease inhibitions by gradually introducing inappropriate topics into conversations
  5. Compliment the child excessively, send gifts
  6. Develop an online relationship in which the child becomes dependent on the predator
  7. Create gaps between the child and his/her real-life friends and parents
  8. Make faulty promises of a life that is stress-free without responsibilities and tailored towards a child’s desires
  9. Make threats and blackmail them to stay silent about their actions