One of the biggest online dangers of kids participating in social media is the ability of strangers to contact them through messaging.

People, who could pretend to be anything or anyone, have instant contact with your kid from anywhere in the world 24/7 thanks to smartphones.

And while you may be aware of the ability of people to contact kids through messaging apps like WhatsApp, SnapChat, Facebook Messenger, and text messages, there are other ways people can send messages that you need to be aware of.

Both Twitter and Instagram offer private direct messaging options. But that’s not all. Many apps and games offer the ability to connect through direct private messages with other players. Even games like Words With Friends. Popular games with kids like Minecraft and Fortnite also have direct message capabilities.

Kids using game consoles like an Xbox or a PlayStation, also have the ability to connect directly with other players. This can lead to perhaps hearing language you don’t approve of or connecting with friends you might not like or to more serious things like adults bullying children, attempting to lure them into sexual relationships. There was even a case where an adult called in a fake police report to send a SWAT team to a child’s house because the kid was kicking his behind in a video game.

So, if your kids are playing games, you need to be familiar enough with that game to know if direct messaging is available. You also need to set up rules for messaging, including who they’re allowed to message, and check those messages.