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10 Signs Your Child is Encountering Online Predators 2023

It is estimated that nearly five million children between the ages of 10 and 18 will encounter online predators in the United States by 2022. Unfortunately, this phenomenon often goes unreported and unnoticed by adults. Sometimes, even when victims seek help from parents and teachers, the hurt still hasn’t stopped.

In this guide, we will discuss 10 signs that your child encounters online predators. We will also discuss what steps you can take if you believe your child is the target of an online predator.

What is an Online Predator?

An online predator uses the internet to target, groom, and exploit children. They use the internet to establish relationships with children and manipulate them into engaging in inappropriate or dangerous activities. Online predators can be adults or older teens who use the internet to find and target children, or they can be peers who are also minors.

How do online predators groom their victims?

Online predators use a variety of tactics to groom their victims. They will often start by building a relationship of trust with the victim. They may compliment the victim, provide attention, and give them gifts. 

Once the predator has gained the victim’s trust, they will often engage in inappropriate behavior, such as asking for inappropriate photos, sexual favors, or trying to meet in person. This is when the victim is in the most danger.

Signs of Child Targeted by Online Predators

Parents must be aware of the signs that an online predator may target their child. Here are some common signs that your child may be encountering an online predator:

Unusual Activity on Social Media

If you notice your child has deleted online accounts and set up new profiles with different names, or if they are communicating with people they don’t know. There is a need to ask why. They may be trying to escape an issue.

Unfamiliar Names in Their Contacts

The predator usually starts a conversation with a simple “hello,” and then asks about the child’s age, school, address, etc. This person is usually a new player in an online game or a new follower on social media. If your child has contacts in their phone or social media accounts that you don’t recognize, this could be an online predator.

Unexplained Gifts

A predator tries to win over teens with gifts, compliments, and fake kindness. If your child receives gifts from people they don’t know, an online predator may be grooming them this way.

Excessive online time

If your child is spending a significant amount of time online, it is possible that they are being groomed by an online predator at this point, so that could be a key sign.

Sexualizing normal conversation

A predator enjoys turning average conversations into intimate physical encounters. They often share explicit videos and photos and try to persuade their victims to participate in pornography and cybersex. If your child is having conversations that are sexual, this could be a sign that they are being groomed by an online predator.

Secretive Communication

If your child is communicating with someone secretly or deleting messages and call logs, It could be a sign that they are being groomed online. 

Unusual Internet Use

If your child is visiting websites that you don’t recognize or are inappropriate for their age, this could be a sign that they are being groomed by an online predator.

Unexplained Changes in Mood

It is common for teenagers and pre-teens to change their behavior. Still, a radical change in their attitude or desire for social interaction can signify being groomed by an online predator. If your child is exhibiting sudden mood changes, You should pay attention. 

Pornography is found on their device

It was reported by the Crimes Against Children Research Center that 25% of children had been exposed to unwanted pornographic content online. Often, predators will send victims pornography to desensitize them to sexual activity. If your child has inappropriate images or videos on their device, they might be being groomed online.

Loss of interest in hobbies

Whenever you notice your child is suddenly losing interest in hobbies or activities that they used to enjoy, speak with them about what might be going on.

What to Do if You Suspect Your Child is Encountering Online Predators

If you suspect that your child is the target of an online predator, it’s important to take immediate action. Talk to your child and let them know that you are there for them. Report any suspicious activity to the police and block or delete any accounts or contacts that you believe are associated with the predator.

It’s also important to have an open dialogue with your child about online safety. Teach them about the dangers of the internet and how to protect themselves. Make sure they know not to share private information with strangers, and remind them that they can always come to you if they have any questions or concerns.


Online predators are a real threat to children, and parents must stay vigilant and aware of the signs that their child may be the target of a predator. By staying informed and talking openly with your child about online safety, you can help protect them from online predators. If you believe an online predator is targeting your child, take immediate action and contact the authorities.



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