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Online Stranger Danger

It seems as though everywhere you look these days, there are stories everywhere about the dangers of children and young people talking to strangers online.  It’s hard for parents and professionals to keep up with the ever changing world of social media and with the constant addition of new apps which appear to encourage young people to talk to complete strangers.  But why do children and young people befriend, trust and follow strangers online?

Some of the most obvious reasons are:

  • Young people are curious by nature and are always on the lookout for excitement
  • Shy, lonely and socially uncomfortable children may find it easier to connect and chat online than face-to-face
  • Peer influence leads children to get interested in online networking
  • Despite being aware of cyber bullies, stalkers and groomers; children ignore these threats due to the lack of foresight and experience
  • Some children seek affection and company of online friends due to problems at home
  • Children with low self-esteem often look to online communities for acceptance
  • Teens like to connect with other teens of the same/opposite sex

What could happen if young people spend excessive time on social media platforms?

  • They will lose the desire for real life socializing
  • It will affect their ability to initiate and carry-on interpersonal communication
  • They will become less tolerant and more remote in their attitude towards people
  • They might reveal personal information to data thieves
  • They may become targets for paedophiles, groomers or cyberbullies
  • They can be exposed to inappropriate content and language
  • They can initiate or indulge in cyberbullying themselves

What can parents/carers do to help?

Clear instructions on appropriate online behaviour, cyber safety measures and monitoring are helpful to keep your young people safe. It is so important to talk to children and young people about how to stay safe and why it can be dangerous to talk to people they don’t know online.  However, this can sometimes feel like a minefield, especially if you feel your own knowledge of social media is far less than your young person’s and you may feel you need support on the best way to deal with this.  For more information and support on online safety and talking to strangers online, please contact head office on 01903 823546 and ask to speak to someone on the safe project.


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