“Hi who dat? This is a girl from ‘local school’ named EL….. I live in ciceron and am 13. if u want 2 no me can i pleez get ur email address? this ain't no hacker.”
Now, I’m an ex-teacher, and having witnessed and been told of the net-surfing on blackberries and break-time – and class-time – toilet visits for texting and chatting to boyfriends, I was always an advocate for banning cell-phones in schools. So here I am, a randomly chosen number receiving an invite to ‘no’ this 13 yr old child.
So I decided to see how far this child would take this dangerous activity and texted back:
“I’m interested, my email is na…email@example.com”
I chose an email that could be male or female and if you ‘no’ about the normal system, you’d ‘no’ I could be 34 yrs old.
“Hello. Ill b on 2mrow.Are u a guy?Mine is e……@hotmail.com. Thank you.”
Well, at least she’s polite…
Next text comes in before I have a chance to reply to the last one:
‘no’ it all E: “Whats ur name age and skool”
I was already texting my reply so I ignored that one and decided to get things going:
Me: “I’m not a student. What are you interested in?”
‘no’ it all E: “Lol.Actually um I jus lookin 4 guy friendz.”
Me: “Can we meet?”
‘no’ it all E: “Lol I not sure buh dah who be wen skool open, we go chat online doh worry.”
Ok, so she is taking her time…
‘no’ it all E then tries to get more info about me: Wher u livin?How old ar u?
Ok, so now I figured, should I wait and chat with her online tomorrow - see if I get a picture from her, more info...but I thought I'd better just end it here, so:
Me: ‘If u really are 13 u don’t know how dangerous u playing. I’m an ex-convent teacher. 1ust wanted to see how far u’d go. Stop messing around.”
E’s response: Actualy I jus wanted friends not no big man.Im that kind of friendly type.Sorry but I not messin around. Thank u for your cooperation. Bye.”
Me, in one last attempt to get her to see how dangerous this could be, sorry I lost this reply so it’s not a direct quote:
What ur doing is dangerous, u don’t know I cud be a criminal and lead you down a track. U need 2 b careful.
But alas, ms 13yr old ‘no’ it all E actually believes she is smart enough to pick out a child molester or rapist who’s much older than her and much, much more experienced in this game, her reply:
“I am not so stupid.I know who I duz deal wit.I always talk online b4 I meet sum1 and if they seem criminal like I defriend them. Thank u.Bye gnite!”
I could easily have gotten A LOT more information out of her, chatted to her online, gotten more info on where in Ciceron she lives, seen her picture on msn so I could look out for her coming or going to school and perhaps offer her something else to do for the day…
Or, ‘she’ could have been a child molester-kidnapper-paedophile, and I could have been your ‘innocent’ child being led down a track…
Now, I know things have become more dangerous these days and parents want their kids to be able to call them if they get stranded or into trouble, and also for the parent to be able to check on their kid, but I wonder how the balance really lies – is the ‘need’ for that contact really much greater than the dangers you lay out in front of your kids with a cellphone… camera phone…blackberry…computer in their bedroom equipped with little webcam...
Do you know who your kid is sending their names to, their pics to, telling where they go to school to, where they live?
Do they know?
You cannot track their cellphone usage - it's too easy for them to delete - if anyone knows how to do this, please do share, but as far as I know, you can't.
Do you know how to track where they’ve been online on a computer? Do they know how to delete their history? Have you installed tracking software so you can still track what they are saying, to whom and what plans they’re making with strangers even after they’ve deleted their tracks? You might like to try something like this:
Here's a book that might help you figure some of these things out:
If you really believe your child needs a cellphone and internet access, then you better believe you need to be a CIA super-operative watching, digging up histories and expecting real danger at every turn your ‘no’ it all child takes. Beware, take care of your child before someone else does.
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Do you have experiences,questions or suggestions?
PLEASE share them in the comments section - you can be anonymous if you like, but the more this is talked about and discussed will help all of us and maybe help a parent save their kid from a danger they really don't understand.