Authorities this month arrested 24 men in New Jersey, charging them with using social media to lure unsuspecting underage boys and girls to meet them for sex.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal on Tuesday said that predators in the past would stalk kids at playgrounds, school yards and shopping malls.

“But now they also lurk at social media, where they utilize the anonymity of the internet to target the same vulnerable children."

He said the deviants who look for young victims online will disguise themselves.

“We want child predators to know that we’re on social media, too, and that the next child that they may target may be an undercover officer with handcuffs," Grewal said.

“We’re determined to stop this type of predatory behavior against our children, and to bring these offenders to justice.”

Grewal added that law enforcement needs the help of parents to make sure kids stay safe. He said it’s essential that parents familiarize themselves with social media apps that children are drawn to.

“Just as you are vigilant about a stranger approaching your child in a park, you need to be equally if not more vigilant about the danger lurking in these new cyber playgrounds.”

Even gaming apps have messaging features that allow users to communicate with each other.

(NJ Attorney General's Office)

“Make sure that the apps on your children’s devices are age appropriate. Talk to your children about social media. Let them know that the people they encounter may not be who they initially seem to be, and warn them not to share personal information or pictures with strangers they encounter on the internet," Grewal said.

Lt. John Pizzuro, who heads the New Jersey State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, said that apps allow people to use them anonymously.

“Because of that, and because they’re not content-monitored by these companies with these apps, it makes it easy for individuals to target children," he said.

He stressed “only by working together can we ensure the safety and wellbeing of our children.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com