A lurker in internet culture is usually part of an online community who observes but doesn’t participate. Lurkers make up a large amount of users in online communities however there are dangers with lurking. As a lurker the lack of social contact while lurking sometimes causes loneliness or apathy within the teen/child.
There are also adult lurkers who are predators with harmful intentions such as sexually exploiting, manipulating or abusing youths and will attempt to lure teens/children.
The internet allows for easy communication with teens and children through online chatting, photo sharing, webcams, sexting, online gaming and social networking websites.
Youth are vulnerable to being lured or victimized online as their behaviour is less inhibited when using technology. Things can quickly and easily spiral out of control with the predator’s tactics or scams leaving the youth feeling like there is “no way out”.
Predators play with teenage emotions and their want to be loved. Predators can research the social media profiles of a youth, learn about them and then create a fake account of a boy or girl that matches the type of person the youth is attracted to and claim similar interests. A simple friend request or invite to chat by the predator will shift over time and become much more.
Youth turn to social media for friendship, support and to boost their self-esteem. Predators take advantage of these emotions and reach out with flattery about the teen/child’s appearance and use compliments in an effort to create a relationship with them. They may even send gifts in an effort to gain trust, and to get personal information.
Chatting privately and secretly
Predators prefer to work in secret so instead of making public comments, they send private messages through online chat rooms, Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. They also target youth on online games. Predators slowly build trust and ask for personal information or photos and ask the youth to keep the relationship a secret from parents and friends.
When a youth tries to end a relationship with a predator, the predator often uses intimidation tactics to prevent it. For example: threatening to tell their parents or making their nude photos public. Predators also use this type of intimidation to get youth to do what they want them to do, including: meeting them somewhere or sending pornographic photos.
Playing “the good guy”
Many times, youth believe that no one understands them, especially their parents. So when a person they meet online tells them everything they want and need to hear, that's hard to ignore. Predators play "the good guy." They take the teen/child’s side on every issue and convince them that they are the only person who cares about them.