Police are investigating a growing number of cases of sex offenders using the internet to prey on victims.
Detective Sergeant Ed Jones, an officer from the Leicestershire Police's Paedophile and Online Investigation Team (Polit), urged parents to take an interest in their children's use of social networking sites.
Det Sgt Jones said: "It's extremely important that parents take an active interest in what and who their children are corresponding with online and to educate them about the dangers of speaking to people they do not know.
"There is no way of knowing 100 per cent that the person you are talking to is who they say they are, and that is extremely important to remember.
"It's quite easy to create a misleading online profile, recorded web cam footage, images and details of others from the internet are easily accessible.
"Try to encourage your children to make friends with only people they already know, like friends through school or family members.
"It's also worth remembering that anything streamed via a webcam can be recorded and unfortunately there are those out there who will take advantage of trusting people.
"If your child says that they have made a new friend online, take an interest and try to learn more about the people they are talking to. If you feel concerned or think your child is being exploited online call police immediately."
Det Sgt Jones suggested two websites for parents to find out more: