Cybergrooming: How to protect your child

Internet Risks

Around one third of children and young people in Switzerland have already experienced cybergrooming. Perpetrators try to gain their trust online, entrap them in dependency and ensure that they do not confide in anyone. Make sure that your child is prepared for this.

Little iBarry sniffs at a bone with a bow that protrudes from the screen of a laptop.

What is cybergrooming?

"Cybergrooming is a term that means that adults with sexual intentions are trying to gain the trust of children and teenagers online. The English verb "to groom" means to brush, groom fur; in the context of sexual intentions, it means building a relationship with a victim. The prefix cyber- denotes the place where grooming takes place: in the various social spaces of the Internet.

How does cybergrooming work?

Offenders use various social networks such as Instagram, Tiktok or Snapchat or the chat function of online games to establish contact with girls and boys. Through the profiles of the children and young people, the perpetrators obtain valuable information about hobbies, idols, etc. With this knowledge they can easily pretend to have similarities and establish closeness.

The new friendship is then intensively cultivated. The girl or boy experiences a great interest in their person, which they often find very flattering. The perpetrators often talk (often after the first few minutes) about love and sex. They ask about looks, sexual experiences and fantasies and build up an intimate relationship with their victims over a longer period of time. At first, the girl or boy often enters into these sexually suggestive dialogues with romantic and naïve ideas. The more intense the dialogue becomes, the more the perpetrators gain the trust of the victim.

«Educate your child that a photo can be misused. »

Safety tips for parents

Help with the registration

Is your child interested in offers on the Internet - a game, a social media platform? Help them with registration and initial orientation. Adjust the privacy settings so that as little of your child's data as possible is automatically disclosed. More about data control.

Make devices safe

Many devices today have parental controls that you can activate. (Activate Parental Control Mac; activate Parental Control iPhone / iPad, activate Parental Control on Windows 10, activate Parental Control on Android phones / tablets, Parental Control apps). You can also use webcam stickers to mask the camera.

Establish some rules

Make your child aware that caution is also required when making contact with strangers online. Advise them not to give out any private information on the Internet. If your child absolutely wants to meet a stranger, accompany them. If your child is over 15 years old and wants to meet their acquaintance alone, insist on a public place with lots of people in daylight.

Talk about photos and videos

Educate your child about the risk that a photo or video can be misused for the wrong purposes. Ask your child to ask themselves the following question before sending a photo or video: How would I feel if the photo or video could be seen by everyone in a newspaper, on television or on the Internet?

Ask about online experiences

Talk to your child about their online experiences. Let them know that they can always turn to you if they have a problem without fear of recrimination or prohibition.

Act on suspicion

If you suspect harassment, talk to your child gently and calmly about what happened. Secure evidence by screenshot. Report the violations to the operator oft he respective service. If you have the impression that an adult is sexually harassing your child, contact your local police. Report such cases also to Fedpol.

Case studies Cyber-Grooming

Eleven-year-old Laura likes to play FarmVille on Facebook. One day, when she receives a large amount of FarmVille's game currency from someone she doesn't know, she starts chatting with him. The stranger introduces himself as a 14-year-old and offers Laura to give her even more FarmVille game currency if she sends him pictures of her underwear.

Markus is 13 and plays many of his games via the online platform Steam. At some point he gets a chat message from a user he didn't know before. The user introduces himself as a 14-year-old girl who is totally enthusiastic about his game collection and would like to meet him for a game of chance.


Additional information