Protecting Your Child from Online Grooming

Protecting Your Child from Online Grooming

Online grooming in this sense is defined as when someone builds an online relationship with a child or young person and forces or tricks them into doing something of a sexual nature. This could be online messages or conversations, sending images or videos, livestreaming, or trying to meet up with the child in person.

Understandably, online grooming, cyberbullying and other known risks are a big concern when our children spend time interacting with other people on smartphones or tablet devices and enter the world of social media. It can be difficult to know how to best protect your child, whilst also enabling them to have some level of freedom and privacy online.

How to prevent online grooming

There are lots of helpful resources available if you’re worried that your child is being groomed by someone online. Even if your child isn’t showing any signs of being groomed or hasn’t yet got social media profiles or messaging apps, experts advise that parents should talk to their children about some of the dangers of online grooming, so they know what to look out for if they are ever approached in this way.

Visit the sites below for more information on how to prevent grooming online:

Childline – Online Grooming Advice Internet Matters – Protecting your children online Net Aware (NSPCC)(Net Aware (NSPCC)) Barnardo’s – Online Safety

How Wing can help protect your child when they’re online

If a child or young person is being groomed by someone online, there aren’t always clear signs of what is happening. A groomer will often spend many months trying to gain the child’s trust before trying to pressurise them into doing anything sexual in nature. This can make online grooming very difficult to detect, which is one of the reasons why it’s important that parents talk to their children about some of the things they might come across online, and what to do if it happens to them.

Another tool that can help give parents peace of mind that their children have a level of protection is an app like Wing. Wing uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to unobtrusively monitor your child’s social media posts, messages, use of images, video and other online activity and use this data to assess their mood and mental wellbeing. If Wing detects a ‘threat’ that requires intervention, the parent is alerted to the issue. Parents also get regular updates from Wing about how their child is feeling about their online interactions, through the medium of a weatherscape. A calm and sunny day means that the child’s online activity indicates they are happy and content, whereas stormy weather could show that the child’s interactions may be angry, stressed or unhappy.

Wing has been designed to give parents some insight into their child’s mood and emotions in relation to their online activity, but also enables the child to have a level of privacy and freedom of expression, without worrying that they are being ‘spied’ on. This approach can help to build trust within the parent/child relationship, but still gives parents some peace of mind at the same time.

Read our FAQs to find out more about Wing and how it can help protect your child online.