Discussion Guide

What is Grooming?

Strangers look different online, which makes risky interactions with people kids meet there an important ongoing discussion. Make sure kids know they don’t have to handle this on their own, and that they won’t get in trouble if they come to you.
illustration of a person in a hat and dark glasses


Why talking about this is important

Online grooming can happen quickly or over time, but at its core it’s a process of exploiting trust to shift expectations of what safe behavior is, while leveraging fear and shame to keep a child silent.

In this guide you will:

  • Have an open dialogue and talk to your child about what it means to trust someone.
  • Proactively teach your child how to recognize red flags and what to do if someone is weird or mean to them online.
  • Create a safe space and make sure your child knows they can always come to you.

What to expect from your kid

Your child may have become used to talking to people online — friends, grandparents, etc — and therefore might be quick to trust other people, without seeing any potential dangers. Walk them through possible signs that a person online is not trustworthy.

First steps

How to start talking

Though you may have had “stranger danger” discussions about people kids may encounter in real life, it’s important to reframe the conversation, to address the types of encounters, rather than the individuals. Here are some key opportunities:
  • After you FaceTime with a friend or family member.
  • When they mention playing a game online with their friends.
  • When they ask you to download a new game for them that has chat functionality.
  • When they are watching videos that include comment functionality.

How often do you talk to people online?

Conversation Script

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Related Discussion Guides

Grooming isn’t always an easy topic to address, but it’s a key step in safeguarding your child as they begin to spend more time online. Here are some complimentary discussion guides.

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