Among the gifts that the little ones at home receive to celebrate Children’s Day are sometimes devices, such as smartphones, tablets, or consoles that allow them to connect to the internet, so it is necessary for parents to pay special attention so that they are not victims of dangers such as grooming.
According to ESET Latin America, grooming refers to when an adult contact a minor online to gain their trust and friendship with the aim of sexually abusing the victim.
Said abuse can range from establishing a conversation of a sexual nature, asking you to send photos and videos to engaging in sexual practices.
The cybersecurity company warned that these communications begin through social networks or any digital medium that allows interaction between two or more people. This is important if one considers that, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi), of the 87 million Internet users in the country, about 21.3 million are children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 17.
How to protect children from grooming?
- Talk openly with them.
- Get involved and accompany the use of digital platforms.
- Provide advice and tools to minors.
- Approach the platforms and educate with your example.
- Show your continued support.
Other risks that, according to Avast, minors and also adults can find on the internet:
- Harassment. It consists of a series of threatening behaviors, such as continuous offensive messages, online stalking, or group bullying of a person.
- Sexual harassment. It can include anything from sending messages with sexual content or threatening to publish compromising videos or photos of the victim.
- trolling. It is a chain of lies or mockery towards a person with the intention of causing an emotional reaction in the victim.
- Outing/Doxing. Personal information of the victim is shared without their consent, such as their address or phone number, or private messages with the intention of embarrassing or humiliating.
- Frapping. It consists of breaking into someone’s social network or creating a fake profile to impersonate the victim to humiliate or ruin their reputation with inappropriate posts.
- Dissing. This is when the cyberbully spreads rumors or posts humiliating photos, videos, or screenshots of their victims. Usually, the bully seeks to embarrass and ruin the reputation and friendships of his victim.
What to do if you are a victim of harassment, threats, humiliating or hateful messages, or comments?
- Block the profile or account of the person who is harassing them.
- Have private profiles to avoid and eliminate cyberbullying.
- Do not send photos, videos, or information to strangers.
- Stop interacting with that profile or account and approach the parents if something makes them uncomfortable, seems strange or they just don’t feel safe.
- Know that social networks allow you to report inappropriate or offensive content so that it can be removed from the platform.
- Have strong, unique, and secret passwords (except for parents).
- Consider the use of a virtual private network that can encrypt the Internet connection, thus maintaining your privacy when browsing.
One recommendation is that parents try to always be aware of what their children are doing and with whom they communicate through the Internet.
You should also be alert to possible grooming symptoms, such as changes in the child’s behavior, including withdrawing from adults, lowering their school performance, having mood swings, secretly using devices, isolating themselves, and unexplained physical injuries, among others.
Given this, Twitter and the organization Grooming Argentina created the first Grooming Guide in Latin America that has several tips to protect minors. For example, parents are recommended to maintain constant communication with the minor, teach them how to use the platforms, and explain the risks that interacting with people they don’t know can cause.
Additionally, minors must be taught not to share personal information, not to accept requests or messages from unknown persons, and to take care of their privacy and intimacy.