The term online stranger refers to anyone you are in contact with online but you have never met in person. Even if you have been chatting with a person for days or even weeks, if they are unknown personally to you, they will still be considered a stranger.  

Although talking to strangers online has many benefits such as allowing you to meet new people and create new friendships, it is important to be aware of the risks and be cautious with any interaction you have with an online stranger.  

Not everyone is who they say they are online. When you meet a person in real life you will immediately recognize if they are male or female, old or young, foreign or local, etc. Online however, it is much easier to pretend you are something you are not. There are online predators who take advantage of this and disguise as different people so they can gain your trust, while their real intention is gaining access to you for sexual purposes. They may tell you things you want to hear, offer gifts or make promises that will make you want to be in contact with them.  

The process of befriending a child online for sexual purposes is called online grooming.  Child sex offenders use this method to gain a child’s trust and make them believe they can trust them. By manipulating a child’s feelings, it becomes easier to abuse a child and also maintain control over them. 

Where can the online predators find you? 

Communication online happens in various forms – through social media, chat rooms, messaging apps, online games and more. The same platforms you use to stay in contact with your friends, are the same platforms that online predators use when they want to reach out to a child. 

With any online account you have, make sure you are setting the privacy settings so that only friends and people you know can contact you and see your information. You should also make sure that any information you write about yourself does not expose any personal details. To learn more about setting your privacy settings press here.