Share this with kids – please! This post is going to talk about ways of avoiding some of the dangers that are present for young kids online. If you have young children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces or just friends with kids, please share this post.
Young kids are online a lot. (Teens Spend ‘Astounding’ Nine Hours a Day in Front of Screens) They are on their smartphones, their tablets and their computers. Kids love Social Media where they get to share with friends plus they can meet lots of new people. In a perfect world, all of that would be good. Unfortunately, a perfect world isn’t the one in which we live.
I get young people – both male and female – who follow me online all the time, especially on Instagram (IG). (Part of the reason I get so many may be that I’m listed as a Public Figure on IG.) In 95% of the cases, I don’t follow back unless I know them. However, once in a while, I’ll decide to follow them back. For instance, recently, I followed a young woman back who had posted two pictures of herself in Times Square in New York City. Since I love NYC, I decided to follow her back. It wasn’t very long before she DMed me, (You may recall from reading my post, Ten Internet Terms You May Or May Not Know, that DM stands for Direct Message.) After just a brief conversation, I realized she’s a teenager with 1000 followers on Instagram.
Many times when young people, expecially women, DM me on Social Media, I’m the one that has to be leery. So very often, after brief conversations, they’ll hit me up for Amazon Gift Cards or iTunes Cards. Sometimes, they just come right out and ask for money. (I block them immediately, of course.) This young woman from NYC, though, was different. She was friendly, inquisitive and just a nice person. Finding her to be that way, I then turned to looking at her as possibly becoming a victim. That led me to share the cautions I want you to share with other young people in your life.
Don’t reveal too much personal information, especially something that would allow someone to track you down. For example, one young person I knew from church had secured their Facebook account well. Their profile was locked down except to friends. That sounds great, doesn’t it? The only problem was that their profile picture (which everyone can see) showed them in a sweatshirt naming their high school and its location. That alone would have allowed a pedophile or other evil person to have a starting point when it comes to finding them.
Don’t share photos that you shouldn’t be sharing. My message to young children is “if you wouldn’t want your parents seeing that you shared a particular photo, you shouldn’t be sharing it.” There are a ton of underlying reasons why youngsters, especially young girls, share “sexy” and/or “sensual” pictures. For some, it’s the need to be reassured that they’re nice looking or desirable. Many times, it’s to receive the positive feedback that they often don’t get at home. Whatever the reasons, my caution is that there are plenty of ways of getting positive feedback without baring parts of your body.
Block anyone who pushes you to send those kinds of pictures. If there’s someone who is pushing a young person to send inappropriate pictures, they need to be blocked. These types of people will often take those kinds of photos and share them with others or post them on websites. No one wants to see that happen.
Don’t ever agree to meet anyone. Going back to the idea that you may not know who you are really dealing with online, the last thing a person (young or old) should do is agree to meet someone they just met online or someone whose identity cannot really be established.
If anyone puts you down or bullies you or doesn’t treat you like the wonderful person you are, block them. I can’t say this more clearly. Young people need to block those who tear them down rather than build them up.
For a terrific FBI website regarding this issue, click HERE.