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How can I best talk to my daughter about online predators?

A Generic stock photo to illustrate a girl facing online dangers. (Alamy/PA)

The Internet Watch Foundation, which has launched a campaign to help parents warn their daughters about online dangers, offers advice.

I worry about my 12-year-old daughter being approached by online predators. What’s the best way to talk to her about it?

Susie Hargreaves, CEO of the Internet Watch Foundation, says: “Most parents wonder and worry about how best to talk with their children about issues associated with sexual abuse, including online predators.

“This is why the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has launched the ‘Home Truths’ campaign, to help parents talk to their young and teenage daughters about the dangers online. As part of the campaign, we developed the memorable T.A.L.K acronym for easy recall when the time is right to talk.

“I encourage you, and all parents, to sit down with your daughter and Talk. Agree. Learn. Know. Talking about online safety is as important and fundamental as asking your child to wear a seatbelt in the car.

Talk to her about online child sexual abuse; start the conversation and make sure she’s aware of how online predators work and what she should look out for. When you’re talking to her, listen to her concerns and ensure she knows she can either come to you for advice or knows where she can seek advice online.

Agree on boundaries; work with her to understand how she’s using websites and apps and ensure you set ground rules that are right for your family.

Learn about the platforms and apps she’s using; find out what the current in-trend apps are and if, and how, she’s using them. Take an interest in her life online, it’s as important as her life offline.

Know how to use the apps; download them and use them yourself. Each app will have settings and data policies you can read so you know how to set up the built-in protection provisions within each app.

“Most importantly, keep the conversation with your daughter open. Let her know that if someone she doesn’t know is talking to her online, she should never feel pressured or coerced into sending pictures of herself, or others. Resources to help you talk to your daughter can be found on the ‘Home Truths’ website (talk.iwf.org.uk).

“Young girls should feel empowered to take control of their safety online, understand how to deal with inappropriate requests, and report them to a trusted source. So, I urge parents to share the link to our Gurls Out Loud website (gurlsoutloud.com), so your daughters can read our advice for themselves.”

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