Spring Branch ISD

Online Scams

In an era where children are increasingly active online, the risk of encountering scams is higher than ever. Scammers have honed their techniques to specifically target young, impressionable minds, ranging from seemingly innocuous advertisements in games to sophisticated social engineering tactics. Here’s an expanded overview, including advice for parents to safeguard their children and finances.

Understanding the Landscape

The digital playground is vast, and while it offers immense opportunities for learning and entertainment, it also harbors risks that parents and children need to navigate carefully. Let’s delve deeper into the common scams:

Influencer Scams

Children often look up to social media influencers, who can wield significant sway over their audience. Some influencers may promote products, apps, or services that are not appropriate or safe for children, or they might engage in deceptive advertising practices without clear disclosures.

Preventive Tip: Discuss the nature of advertising with your children, emphasizing that just because a favored influencer promotes a product or service, it doesn't mean it's suitable or safe. Encourage critical thinking about the intent behind such promotions and the importance of researching before expressing interest in advertised products.

In-Game Purchases

Many games popular with children, such as those available on platforms like Roblox or Fortnite, feature in-game currencies and marketplaces. Children might not fully grasp the concept that virtual items have real-world costs. Scammers exploit this by designing games that heavily incentivize or, in some cases, nearly require in-app purchases to progress, leading to unexpected bills.

Preventive Tip: Parents should enable purchase verification settings on devices and discuss with their children the implications of in-game purchases, making clear distinctions between virtual currencies and real money.

Phishing Scams

Phishing attempts targeting children often come disguised as emails or messages from familiar entities, like a favorite game or social network, claiming issues that need immediate attention. These messages lure children into divulging sensitive information, such as passwords or parents' credit card details.

Preventive Tip: Educate children on the importance of not clicking on links in unsolicited emails or messages and encourage them to verify any suspicious communication by talking to a parent or guardian.


Catfishing in the context of children often involves someone pretending to be a child or teenager to gain trust. These individuals may later attempt to exploit this trust for personal information, inappropriate images, or even in-person meetings.

Preventive Tip: It's crucial to teach children about the risks of forming online relationships with strangers and to always involve a parent or trusted adult in new online friendships.

Ad Scams

Children are particularly susceptible to ads that promise free rewards, like game skins or new features, in exchange for clicking a link or filling out a form. These can lead to malware installations, subscription traps, or the harvesting of personal information.

Preventive Tip: Install ad-blocking software and educate children to be skeptical of too-good-to-be-true offers, stressing the importance of not clicking on or interacting with suspicious ads.

Additional Considerations

As the digital landscape evolves, so do the tactics used by scammers. It's important for parents to stay informed about the latest trends in online scams and to regularly communicate with their children about their online experiences. Encouraging an atmosphere of openness and curiosity can help children feel comfortable discussing what they encounter online, making it easier to guide them through the complexities of the digital world.

Educating Children

It's crucial to foster an environment where children feel comfortable discussing their online experiences. Education should start early, with age-appropriate discussions about internet safety:

  • Critical Thinking: Teach children to question the legitimacy of unsolicited offers and to recognize the signs of a scam, such as too-good-to-be-true promises.
  • Privacy Awareness: Instill the importance of privacy, emphasizing that personal and family information should never be shared online without parental consent.
  • Secure Practices: Encourage the use of secure passwords and the understanding of privacy settings on social media and gaming platforms.

Parental Involvement

Active parental involvement is key to mitigating the risks:

  • Open Dialogue: Maintain an ongoing conversation about internet use, reassuring children that they can approach you with concerns or questions about anything they encounter online.
  • Monitoring and Controls: Utilize parental control features available on most devices and platforms to monitor activity and restrict access to potentially harmful content.
  • Financial Precautions: Secure your financial information and educate your children about the value of money and the consequences of unauthorized purchases. Consider using prepaid cards or setting up specific child accounts with limited funds for online transactions.

Collaborative Approach

Creating a safe online environment is a collaborative effort that involves parents, educators, and the children themselves. Schools can integrate digital literacy into their curriculum, reinforcing the lessons taught at home. Communities can host workshops or provide resources to support parents in navigating the digital landscape.


In the digital age, scams targeting children have evolved, becoming more covert and manipulative. Education and open communication are the bedrocks of prevention. By teaching children to be skeptical and aware, and by taking proactive steps to monitor and guide their online activities, parents can significantly reduce the risk of their children falling prey to these digital pitfalls.