ShadowDragon OSINT Experts Share Tips for Keeping Children Safe Online


Elliott Anderson, CTO, ShadowDragon

According to a March 2023 Fox News article, data suggests it takes just eight minutes for a predator to form a bond with a child. With the growth of popular sites across the Metaverse, ShadowDragon’s Elliott Anderson weighed in for that story about how parents should be aware of red flags and ways to teach their kids how to stay safe.

The risk of child abuse and exploitation via the Metaverse is real. Now more than ever, it’s crucial that parents take preemptive steps to protect their kids. Keeping children safe online starts early on, and should include conversations surrounding privacy and the value of it, for example. Making both parents and children aware of the data they share online being easily accessible by many people or corporations is important.

From a young age, a child can learn that any item that is “free” means your time and privacy are the product. In other words, YOU are the product if what you’re using is free, just as the cow thinks the grass is free. With this as a basis, you can teach them that all forms of transactions, whether online or in the real world, involve some form of payment for what you are getting. This extends not just to companies, but to individuals as well.

We can’t truly know the intentions of a person when we “meet” them online, and recognizing that everyone is there for something is paramount for anyone online to be aware of. For parents, we advise making sure that children understand these concepts before they start getting online. Here are some tips from the ShadowDragon team to your family.

What are some tips for keeping kids safe online?

Monitor what kids are doing, as well as the games and apps they are accessing.

  • Ask daily who they are chatting with, and what they are chatting about.
  • The uncomfortable part for parents is taking the time to show interest and learn whatever they are excited about, but this will open the door for comfortable communication.
  • It’s also important to define and talk about what it means to be asked for or to send explicit photos.

Set rules and boundaries that can become gut instincts. For example:

  • If you want to try a new game, social media platform or app, ask for permission.
  • If you feel like you need to hide something, there’s a good chance that danger is involved.
  • Never EVER send or receive explicit photos, even when it may seem enticing. There’s no question that the pressure can be high for teens, but once that photo has been sent, it’s in the wild and can become something the entire world sees. For younger children, it’s EXTREMELY important that they know to notify a parent immediately if something like this happens.
  • Never accept gifts from someone online.
  • Never agree to meet or video chat with anyone online.

What are some red flags that someone is trying to harm kids online?

Kids should be encouraged to watch out for these types of red flags:

  • Anyone who asks if you can keep a secret is generally an untrustworthy person and should be avoided.
  • Anyone saying they are mature for their age, or something to this extent, is a very bright red flag.

For parents, it’s very important to keep the doors of communication open with their children. A straightforward way to do this is by staying connected to their world. If they are young and love playing Minecraft with some friends, learn who those friends are, what they are doing together online, and how the game works.

As they get older, it’s crucial to monitor what they post and engage with them in a positive manner. As they reach their later teen years, kids need to recognize that what they post online can impact their future career or attract predators. A common tactic predators use with unhappy teens is driving a wedge between the target and their parents, opening the door to come in and “save” them.

Yes - the topic is long and complex, and there are many things to think about. At the end of the day, keeping communication open and kids engaged with the understanding that not everyone online is good will keep them safe. The earlier they understand this, the better.


ShadowDragon is committed to open source intelligence (OSINT) for good. For more information about our mission to create tools for modern investigations that are transparent and trustworthy, visit our Trust Center.



Elliott Anderson

Elliott Anderson

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