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What is online grooming?

We explain online grooming so you can stay safe and in control.

Shadowy masked figure online pretending to be someone else

Sadly not everyone online is your friend

It’s easy for someone to pretend to be someone else.

  • Even if they seem friendly they might end up hurting you
  • It might start out fun but then turn scary or stressful
  • It feels good when someone is nice to you, so it's easy to let your guard down
  • Some people want you to let your guard down so they can take advantage of you

Starting an online relationship and wanting to make it sexual is against the law if you're under 16 – even if you never meet IRL.

How online grooming can happen

They might do any of these things or a combination of them:

Like the same things as you

Offer gifts or favours

Say they love you or have never met anyone like you

Are very understanding when you say 'no' at first

Make you feel special

Ask you for a favour

Ask for photos

Ask where you live

Ask for videos

Ask for your phone number

Ask to meet up IRL

Ask you to keep it secret

Get angry with you

Make you feel pressured

They might have a nice profile but you have no idea who they really are

Steer clear of suspicious behaviour

There’s a few things you can do to stay in control and shake off suspicious people you meet:

Trust your gut and if something seems ‘off’ then leave
Be wary of someone you don’t know who tries to be your friend
Be wary of someone who gives lots of compliments for no reason
Don’t respond to their attempts at being your friend; block them
Get an adult to help you report suspicious behaviour
Check your privacy settings and keep your details private

It’s easy to be tricked by someone online and it’s NOT your fault

If you're in this situation, we're here to tell you it's ok. We understand how things can easily get out of control even when you didn't mean for it to happen.

If you are worried about someone online, then try telling one of these adults about it:

Parent or carer


School counsellor

Kids Helpline counsellor

Older sibling or friend


We won't judge and are here to help

There's always someone you can talk to and get advice from

You don't have to deal with scary or stressful situations by yourself. In fact, getting help could be the best thing to do if you're confused or scared.

Kids Helpline is open 24/7. Give us a call, send us an email or talk to us on WebChat.

This content was last reviewed 15/02/2019

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