Keep in mind that kids with learning and attention issues may be more susceptible than their peers to online predators. Predators tend to seek out children who are struggling socially and reel them in through flattery and false pretenses.
Help your child understand that strangers he meets online may not tell him the truth about lots of things, including how old they are. They might be adults pretending to be kids. Bring up news stories of sexual predators grooming kids through social networks.
Use these stories to explain why you need to know whom your child is interacting with online. Make clear that he should never arrange to meet alone with a person he met online. Try to word your questions gently, but don’t be afraid to ask the tough ones.
What you can say
“Jacob, I’m happy for you that you met someone online who seems to have the same interests as you. He seems to know a lot about some of the games you like to play.”
“I want to remind you not to give him your phone number or any other personal information. I know you think I’m too suspicious of people, but one of my jobs is to keep you safe.”
“Remember that news story I read to you about the ‘PlayStation Predator’? He met a kid your age through that gaming network.”
“If you continue to play these games with him, it’d good for us to get to know him better and see if he really is your age. If he lives nearby, I’d be happy to call his mom and arrange for all of us to meet at some point if you’re OK with that.”
“In the meantime, we’ll continue keep an eye on the games you’re playing with him. We’re relying on you to be honest and tell us if anything weird comes up. Remember that I don’t want you to meet him anywhere unless I’m with you.”
Why this will help
Kids with learning and attention issues are sometimes so excited to have someone interested in them that they fail to use caution. That’s why it’s important to talk about the issue and monitor your child’s online activity.
With a careful approach, you can nurture positive activity online while always being vigilant about his safety.
Explore more information on how to protect your child from online predators.