|photo courtesy of Marin at www.freedigitalphotos.net|
I meant to write another one titled “My Teen’s Cell Phone Pt 3” which would have a few details about her encounter with an online predator. Since I’ve still not gotten to that, but find the topic incredibly important, especially since summer is coming (when kids have loads of freedom and additional online time) I’ll try to do my best to summarize the topic.
(Please please pay attention to the links and SHARE them.)
From early on, my daughter saw all the gross Dateline videos, she'd read headlines, she was taught the dangers, and she knew better. But, when she got a gift cellphone from her dad in her ’no cellphone era’ and it had internet, she decided she would do some chatting. No matter the amount of education, the temptation was too great. And, although she knew how to approach the social media/chatting thing (do it first with a parent first- for her safety), she didn’t stick with our plan...
By the time her summer vacation ended with her dad, she was already texting a guy she thought was her age (15) and by the time I got a hold of the phone, and the texts, (on the ride home form her summer break) I found out he was not a teen, but possibly from Canada, and was certainly way older than she was!
while you are together,
in your own home or car,
Online predators are real. And while Dateline videos from 2010 seem cheesy and of poor video quality, they are completely real, and this problem is real.
How did I know what was going on so early in the game? Call it Mother’s Intuition. Call it Red Flags, like incessant texting and sudden needed privacy… Maybe it was the giddy looks and the obsession with the phone. It could’ve been her withdrawal from family discussions. Something was not right. Time is crucial.
Parents, pay attention to your children's online life.
My teen wanted to see the movie “Trust”. So we watched it together. It was slightly graphic at times, but we discussed things afterwards. Watch the trailer for this movie. While the language might offend you or your child (the parents and child were a bit more vulgar than their characters probably needed to be) it is a true look at the horror of online personas and kids' trust of others. The main character in this movie was 14 years old.
(This last video is an interesting look at how many avenues online predators use, as well as a how women can get drawn into a relationship too easily, ignore obvious signs, and stay in the wrong relationships...regardless of the red flags. This is a lesson for many women.)