Online predators are hard to recognize at first; they seem just like anyone else when they sit behind a computer screen and you don’t know what their intentions are. They use fake accounts with fake profile pictures and fake information, so it’s really difficult to tell whether you’re actually talking to someone your age.
Online child predators are everywhere! The FBI and United Nations suggest that there are at least 750,000 online predators at any given moment.
So how can you tell whether someone you are talking to online is actually trying to take advantage of you?
These 15 early warning signs will make it easier to spot child predators online.
1. Online Predators Sound Nice
Contrary to what most people think, online predators actually sound very nice online. The most dangerous ones don’t sound fake at all, and they actually have real conversations with teenagers in a non-threatening environment, whether it be on social media or an online chat room.
2. Online Predators Want to Have Conversations in Private
Online abusers are always looking to have one-on-one conversations with in places where no one can see or hear what they’re saying.
This could be on any platform: WhatsApp, a Google Hangout, Skype, or inbox messaging. What matters is that the conversation is in private.
They will usually not expose themselves to the public by leaving a reply to your photo, for example. This is because if the stranger has bad intentions, he doesn’t want your family or the police to see it.
3. Online Predators Ask for Personal Information
They want to know your full name, your birthday, your address, where you go school… basically any information they can use in for future conversations.
They might not always be direct about asking you, either (i.e. “Where do you go to school?”). They might casually bring it up in conversation by asking, “I used to live in City X. Lots of great memories there.”
Making an innocent comment like, “I live close to City X,” gives them more information without even asking. It’s always best to be reserved when talking to strangers online.
4. Online Predators Already Know Things about You
There may be things they tell you about yourself that you know you didn’t tell them. This might be through the things you post on social media, for example.
5. Online Predators Ask You Lots of Questions
They may know some information about you, but online groomers always look to know more. They want to know about your friends, what you did at school… anything else that can continue the conversation.
The more they know and the more you talk to them, the easier it is for them to groom you online.
6. Online Predators ALWAYS Agree with You
No matter what you say, they feel the exact same way about everything you say. They do this because they want to gain your complete trust.
7. Online Predators Stalk You Online
You might know it and you might not, but strangers always search for more information you. They could message you on your favorite social network several times a day, or they could simply look at your profile without you noticing.
8. Online Predators Monitor Your Online Activities
Piggybacking on Sign #5, many online criminals will track your online activity for their benefit. They will do research on you and learn more about your online behaviors. This includes finding out when you’re online and how often you post on certain sites.
They do this to control you and keep the conversation in their favor.
9. Online Predators Stalk Your Family and Friends
Some online strangers might go the extra mile and go through your friends’ and family members’ profiles. This might be to get more information about you that you didn’t share on your profile.
Side Note: Be sure to have a conversation with your family (parents, siblings, etc.) about the pictures they post.
10. Online Predators Try to Make You Feel Special
They constantly tell you how important you are to them. They will throw you compliments about how smart, funny, and/or beautiful you are. They will also tell you that they’re so glad they met you.
11. Online Predators Want to See You in a Vulnerable State
When they say something like, “What’s wrong?” or, “Tell me what’s bothering you,” think twice before you say anything to them.
These abusers love it when you talk to them about something that makes you angry or sad. When you do this, it establishes a sense of trust in their mind.
They will usually follow up with a story of their own that relates to what you said – which could be fake – or they will pretend to empathize with you by telling you that they understand and, “You can always come to them for anything.”
12. Online Predators Try to Turn You against Other People
In an effort to value your relationship with them, they will devalue your relationships with other people. They will tell you that your family and friends don’t appreciate or understand you the way they do.
13. Online Predators Make up Stories That Don’t Make Sense
For example, maybe they say they’re a teenager, but they’ve said things that make them seem older.
When your whole relationship with an online stranger is based on a bunch of lies, it can be pretty easy to catch someone lying.
14. Online Predators Offer You Gifts
Strangers may try to lure you with presents or money. (Don’t accept them.)
If someone offers your presents or money, they are always expecting something in return.
15. Online Predators Ask You for Pictures or Request to Video Chat
Strangers might send you friend requests with a fake picture pretending to be your age. If you chat with a stranger online, they might send you a non-threatening picture of someone your age to make you think it’s them.
Keep in mind that these pictures could easily be downloaded from anyone online and re-uploaded by them; don’t believe everything you see online.
16. Online Predators Make Uncomfortable Comments
Once you start having conversations with these online criminals, they start to feel more comfortable telling you what they really want.
Many of these criminals make sexual comments. Others might share nasty propaganda about people they want you to hate.
Regardless, if anything sent to you makes you feel uncomfortable, tell a responsible adult immediately.
17. Online Predators Ask You to Lie
When it comes to your online relationship with a predator, they ask you to keep your relationship secret from your parents and/or any other adults who are important to you.
This will happen if and when you spend more time with them online and/or receive gifts from them.
18. Online Predators Pressure You into Meeting in Person
Ideally, they’d like to meet you as soon as possible, but they know that they have to be very sneaky about how to meet you.
19. Online Predators Threaten You
If you do not do what they say, they might intimidate or blackmail you to get their way. For example, if you don’t do what they ask, they might “tell your parents,” or “share your photos with others.”
20. Online Predators Will Make You Think What They’re Doing Is Normal
Don’t let them convince you that they’re doing is okay. You’re not in the wrong if they’re doing something that’s making you feel uncomfortable.
If, at any time, you think you’re talking to an online predator, end the conversation and block them immediately. If you think a stranger is trying to stalk you online, do not hesitate to get help by telling a responsible adult, or calling your country’s Child Protection hotline. (Find it at the bottom of this page.)
WikiHow: How to Recognize an Online Predator
Graham Cluley: Inside the Mind of an Online Predator
MyLOL.com: Signs to Recognize and Online Predator
SafeKids.com: How to Recognize Grooming
This article reminded me of this very tragic video:
It based on a real story, where a 14 year old girl was murdered by an online predator after he stalked her activities.
Thanks for sharing this video! All the videos from Du’s #PostWisely campaign are hard to watch, specifically because they’re based on true stories; you can find more about it on Facebook and Twitter.
XD *sends video link
*then spoils video
Thank you for doing this i was really worried about this girl, asking me if i live in the USA and what city and said we might go to the same school and a lot of these things were things she has done. Thanks you might just saved me from being raped or kidnapped. Thank you!
I am a parent of a teen. After he snuck an old phone from his dad’s house that I didn’t know he had until the next day, we found transcripts of Skype conversations with a stranger that I’m 99.9% sure was an adult posing as a teen, wanting him to video himself. It doesn’t look like it ever became live video (sorry I don’t use Skype so I don’t know what all it entails or the correct terminology).
Is there a way to trace possible child predators?
The best way to track is child predator is to pose a child yourself and chat with the person to get more details about his whereabouts. In case you know the Skype ID of the person who chatted with your child, you can use this tactic on that stranger.
That’s what I do even though I’m only seventeen I’m trying to pose as a fifteen year old so I can take pictures of child predator messages and then expose them in my fake Facebook account.
Cuz I want these preds to be in jail. It even executed
To Peachpie- If you want to catch online predators. You should join the police or yours country federal law enforcement. Trust me mate. It’s very rewarding.
Sorry for the same comment. I don’t know how to use this iPads…
Wow, I have this online boyfriend and he doesn’t show any of these sighns… I’ll still be on the lookout though
Hey, so my cousin talks to 2 people on XBOX. My cousin and them are friends, but he doesn’t know them in real life. My cousin video call them on SKYPE sometimes, so they know what their faces look like. I talk to them sometimes too and we video chatted on INSTAGRAM. They seem like their ages and what they look like on INSTAGRAM. My dad found out and said they could be possible predators. I believe him and trust that he’s right. What do you think?
This guy i was talking to was a predator. I knew he wasnt normal, but i went online looking for attention. He was weird. He lied and told me he was 18 he wass deff australian. He just kept telling me i was so beautiful and he really liked me. Then he told me he loved me. He kept asking me for sexual pics and stuff. I was stupid but i started to be smarter. I asked him for pics of where he was when he said he was going somewhere. He looked like a 40 year old, so i told him he looked alot older. He lied for two days and said he was just tired from maths. He said he made snapchat for me and he wanted to meet me and see more of me. He never wanted to talk to me when he was in public he would text sometimes. He would say he woke up thinking of me. One day i made up a lie and deleted him on snapchat. I went back less then 24 hours later to see if he still had an account and it was gone. He was a pedo
I ask for pictures of people I come into contact w/ online, and I immediately start google searching the image. I actually caught and confronted an online predator. Not in person though ofc. I’m only 17, but I could still tell something was off. But yeah, anyways I found out that he used a picture from a meme that used a picture of an attractive guy in it. I asked him if he knew what memes were, coz ya know…most millennials would know what a meme is right? He said he was 20, after I told him my age, and asked if it was okay to still talk. I told him no, definitely not. So, after I exposed him, he deleted his profile, and the chat messages. I just hope others are smart enough to do their research and background checks on whoever they talk to online. 🙂
My friend is dating someone she met online and I’m really worried because he set off some of my red flags then some from here. She’s convinced it’s a normal relationship and its normal. How can I change her mind?