If that number sounds scary you might like to meet Sweetie. Sweetie is a 10 year old from the Philippines and spends her time talking to these men. She’s actually a computer simulation of a child, created by a group of Dutch researchers at Terre des Hommes, an international non-profit organisation that works for children’s rights. In only two months, Sweetie was able to attract the attention of 20,000 online predators, identifying 1000 of them and sending this information directly to Interpol.

Unfortunately, this type of harassment of children on the Internet can develop. In most cases, predators are willing to give money to children to perform certain acts in front of the camera. Some of them even seek to meet their victims in person.

Researchers at Terre des Hommes were able to create a profile for this type of predator: wealthy and looking for children from poor countries. However, that doesn’t mean that kids from wealthy nations aren’t at risk.

The good news is that the success against offenders has encouraged the researchers to develop Sweetie’s “younger sister” − Sweetie 2.0. She’ll be monitoring 45,000 chat rooms worldwide where predators look for their next victim. Her mission will be to deter malicious actions, identify the offenders, and help authorities to charge offenders.

It’s essential to educate your child about sensible online behaviour. If kids know of the potential dangers, there is a bigger chance they’ll stay safe and protected in the virtual and real worlds.

Parents should also be active and not let their young children browse the web without guidance. Accompanying them in the use of technology from day one helps to ensure they enjoy safe browsing and steer clear of potential dangers.

There are practical tools that can make parenting in the digital age a bit easier. One way is to oversee their children’s online activity, which is the domain of ESET Parental Control App for Android. With its help, adults can blacklist harmful websites and allow their kids access only to appropriate ones. They can also limit their internet or game time and check their location.

This type of online parenting does not have to be all about limiting access, it can also let children have a say. For instance, if they’ve done all their chores and finished their homework, they can ask for permission to extend play time or browse sites you have previously blocked. Parental Control helps parents to maintain a healthy dialogue with their kids.