Stranger danger is nothing new, but in the internet age it has increasingly become a great concern. I came of age in the 90's, so I remember the warnings about not giving personal information in chat rooms. With more and more preteens having access to phones, tablets and laptops, the danger of being propositioned by a predator continues to increase. Certain sites have gotten a bit of a reputation as a den for perverts and predators. The presence of a large concentration of <a href="https://thecybersafetylady.com.au/2015/03/are-periscope-and-meerkat-safe-for-kids/">pedophiles on platforms like YouNow, and Periscope</a> is nothing new, but only recently with <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-40686763/young-children-groomed-on-live-streaming-app-periscope">pressure applied by journalists,</a> have resulted in the cover for these perverts being blown.
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Online grooming gangs target young children through the previous mentioned sites and apps like <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-berkshire-41842044">Snapchat.</a> Katherine Hill of the UK Care for the Family Charity warns, "Parents need to put … safeguards on devices to protect them. However those simply aren't enough. They will soon be on public wi-fi or a friend's device without protection."
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Just earlier today, I was made aware of a case of inappropriate online behavior thanks to a friend. The name and profile image have been blurred because it appears to be a fake profile. A cross-reference of the profile name and other information led to a forum at RomanceScams that suggested this may be a Nigerian "409 scammer" posing as an enlisted serviceman.
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Internet predators will spend time using platforms, apps and social media networks like the ones mentioned in order to <a href="http://www.puresight.com/Pedophiles/Online-Predators/online-predators-what-can-you-do-to-protect-your-kids.html">target children and "groom" them for exploitation.</a> Often it begins by encouraging the target, building a friendship and escalates to having them send risque or sexual photos or videos. At this point, they may use the images as "sexual blackmail" in order to further exploit their victims. In addition to monitoring software, it's a good idea to <a href="http://www.techaddiction.ca/protect-children-from-online-predators.html">talk with your kids about the potential dangers of the internet</a>. If you have any evidence that your child is being solicited by a predator online, make sure to contact the police as well as reporting the person's profile. You can also report incidents to the <a href="https://www.missingkids.org/gethelpnow/cybertipline">CyberTipline.</a>