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National Human Trafficking Hotline Call 1-888-373-788 (TTY:711) Text 233733


App, Social Media & Online Games

Apps & online games

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At the end of 2018 there were 131 identified apps & online games that predators have successfully used to communicate with kids, tweens & teens.  Apps & online games are constantly changing & more apps are being introduced every day.

Traffickers are tech savvy & good at navigating social media and twenty steps ahead of parents. A trafficker trolling apps & online games often assume other identities to fool kids into thinking they are chatting with another teen.

Teens use apps & predators know this

Traffickers worldwide are increasingly using social media to contact vulnerable teenagers and sell them into sex work, quick to adopt the latest online platforms popular with teenagers that has created new challenges for law enforcement agencies.

Once limited to luring victims in the street, traffickers can now message thousands of people through Instagram, Facebook, Kik, Tagged and Twitter, with WhatsApp and Snapchat some of the latest tools in their arsenal.

Apps & traffickers

 Mobile apps are becoming a popular tool for sex traffickers and put our kids at risk of becoming victims. Whether its apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Whisper or Kik, there are plenty of mobile apps giving sex traffickers easy access children. Traffickers use these apps to lure in both boys and girls. Predators can easily make fake profiles and befriend children and draw them into sex trafficking rings. Traffickers go where the kids are and that's online games and apps.

Danger of online games

Online games can be a lot of fun and kids enjoy playing them, and so do predators. Traffickers are very good at staying aware of popular games kids play so that they can pay along and engage the chat features on each game to interact with kids. Traffickers are skilled at manipulating kids into thinking they are a friend and are harmless. Chat features are a standard part of most online games and many times parents are not even aware that their kids use them when they play a game.


You need to pay attention to what your kids are doing online and who they are chatting with because you don't know who's on the other side.

Stages of online grooming via apps & games

  • Friendship Forming Stage: Targeting and Gaining Trust.
  • Relationship Forming Stage: Filling the Child's (or Family's) Needs.
  • Risk Assessment Stage: Gauging the Level of Threat.
  • Exclusivity Stage: Isolating the Child from Others.
  • Sexual Stage: Desensitizing the Child.
  • Conclusion Stage: Controlling the Child and Situation.

Monitor your kids online

  • Keep computers in open area in home
  • Monitor what your kids are doing online
  • You yourself download the apps your kids can use
  • You parental controls if offered in the app/game
  • Make sure you know all of your kids passwords
  • Check their phones, tablets, computers often
  • Look in the phones settings to see what app they have
  • Disable chat features if possible
  • Limit time on social media
  • Educate kids that they should only "friend" people they know
  • Never chat with someone they do not know
  • If your child ever feels uncomfortable online have them let you know right away
  • Establish good communication with your child

Be sure to 

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Learn more about online safety

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