Who is your tween texting with?
If you are doing your sporadic monitoring, you may come across an unfamiliar name. If you do, be curious. Ask questions.
Tweens feel that “friends of friends” are “safe” to add on Instagram. They couldn’t be further from the truth.
I caught wind of a story where a friend of a friend sent a flattering comment to a 13 year old girl:
“Hey! My cousin is starting a modelling agency in Toronto and is looking for new models. Interested?”
The girl thought it was strange since she’d never chatted with this friend of a friend before.
Luckily the girl told her mom about it because she thought it was weird. Her mom agreed and said: That’s not how modelling agencies recruit —sounds suspicious. So they let it be.
It wasn’t long before the girl’s friend received the same message from the same friend of a friend.
Once both girls realized they were being had they blocked and reported the account.
How many other girls were targeted?
How many fell for it and how many of them knew what to do?
Unfortunately, I don’t know.
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The focus of oversharing on social media has been on teens for quite some time, but it appears the tables have turned —and it’s about time. I’d like to say “It’s no secret how I feel about this” but the truth is, it HAS been a secret that I’ve kept inside for years.
I can’t believe how much parents overshare on social media. I’m talking about everything from a 40 year old’s “Girls’ night out” in clubs, to “Girls’ night in” with wine in hand, to family trips WHILE they’re away with SPECIFIC locations revealed in the pics. I spend hours of my blood sweat and tears trying to teach tweens about the dangers of oversharing on social media, yet their parents are doing exactly the opposite. Teachers are dealing with threats, slander, child pornography charges, cyberbullying and a whole host of other issues that stem from oversharing.
It drives me nuts when on the one hand you’ve got influential adults trying to steer tweens & teens toward using social media responsibly to enjoy it for what it is, and on the other hand mindless adults are modeling a contradictory message. And then they ask, “Why do teens post so much on Instagram?” If children are a bi-product of their parents, then wouldn’t you agree that our current online habits are an indicator of our children’s future online habits?
Have a look at your Facebook account. Browse through your photos. Are there photos there that you need to pull down? What do your posts say about you? Look at some of the photos you posted of your tweens. If you had asked their permission prior to posting them, would they have agreed to let you share them? Put yourself in your tween’s shoes. They are everywhere: Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Vine, Facebook, etc. They all stalk each other’s accounts (I use the word “stalk” because it’s what they call it). Let’s say your tween’s best friend decides to stalk you (the parent). What will she see? What might she be able to screenshot and share with everyone at school that could embarrass your tween? PARENTS ARE NOT TAKING THIS INTO CONSIDERATION.
I follow Sue Scheff (a Cyber Safety Advocate) on Twitter who shared this article which supported my sentiments: Read it later. I’m not finished. (Article: Kids Worry About Parents’ Posts)
When my children were under 10 years old, I created a Youtube channel where I used to make silly parenting videos that would poke fun at the reality of parenting. The trailer for the channel even had me saying “This is a I-refuse-to-raise-incompetent-BEEP-club.” Where it beeped, my mouth clearly articulated the word ‘asshole’. My business quickly evolved as my daughter joined social media. I cleaned up my Youtube channel because I knew her friends would eventually discover it and see me behaving in a way that might affect my credibility. Back then, I had no idea that three years later I would be making appearances in local televised interviews, radio and newspapers about a book I hadn’t even written yet! When my daughter turned 13, some of her friends started asking her, “Is your mom famous?” One day she came home and told me a bunch of them were watching my videos in class! All I could think of was thank God I cleaned up my channel.
I remind tweens to hold back on posting vacation pictures until AFTER the holiday is over and they are back home. Otherwise you’re pretty much telling the world: Yo! The key is under the matt! It’s challenging for tweens to snap away and not be able to share their photos immediately. If they insist, there’s nothing wrong with sending pictures to friends privately through text or through private snapchats or DM messages on Instagram. But don’t post them in your status, Newsfeeds or Stories! This applies to parents too! When you are on vacation and you want to share your holiday pictures with family, SEND THEM THROUGH TEXT OR EMAIL! Why post them on social media where you have friends of friends who can see them? You would be surprised at how little friends of friends care about your cute little kid who made a sand castle on the beach at Norway Bay. Predators love your pics though.
I believe tweens are getting smarter about oversharing. I think many adults need to do the same.
Last week one of my Facebook Followers expressed a concern about predators chatting with her children. In this post I will give you 3 tips to lower the chances of your child coming into contact with one.
Thousands of predators are lurking online at any given moment and they are PROS at saying the perfect thing to lure your child in. They do this all day long. They are looking for easy targets. An easy target is someone who posts things like:
“I’m so pissed at my mom right now.”
“My parents are the worst!”
“My life sucks so bad.”
These are signs that scream “Hey, this kid sounds vulnerable. I’m going to agree with her and give her empathy.” Empathy is the fastest way to gain trust and makes it really easy to start a conversation. Another easy target is a girl who posts a racy (sexy) pic. I’ve seen 11 and 12 year olds post strippy videos on Instagram or selfies wearing only a sport bra with profane words photoshopped in it. These posts scream loud and clear that these girls’ parents are not watching closely and would never know if a predator started grooming their daughters.
The process starts with gentle grooming that can go on for days weeks or months. First they post flattering comments on pics like “Wow. You are stunning.” Then begins the casual conversations. As they continue to give your child attention, your child starts to crave it and starts to look forward to their daily dose of special compliments and likes (all the while building her trust). Next thing you know, he asks her if she wants to text (so that he can isolate her). She sends him her digits, and that’s when he asks for just one sneak peak at her bra. You can imagine how quickly it escalates to the point of him threatening that if she doesn’t send more, he will send the bra pic to all her contacts.
It can get really nasty fast. Children learn how to behave online from their parents. Do not expect the schools to teach your kids detailed Do’s and Dont’s about safe online behaviour because sadly, that’s just not happening yet. Not to the extent that it needs to. I have many school contacts (Principals and Educators) and I’ve asked them all: How much formal online safety training do teachers receive? The answer is none. Because of this enormous gap between the knowledge and capabilities of teachers and the expectations parents place on teachers over who’s going to teach our children about online safety, parents absolutely need to be more informed.
The easiest way to start to discuss the dangers of chatting with people you don’t know in real life with your children is with good visuals. You can find two jaw dropping videos in my ebook “How To Have The Tech Talk With Your Tween,” that clearly show kids how easy it is to be tricked. If you have not already downloaded this ebook, the good news is it’s available for FREE in the opt-in box in the top right corner of this page! GET IT!!
It’s imperative that you know who your children are following and who’s following them. Instagram makes it very easy to block unknown people and to decline a follow request. The police say that 80% of unknown followers from other countries are pedophiles. Did that get your attention? It sure opened my eyes.
Here are 3 ways to lower the chances of predators reaching your children through social media:
- Ensure they are only friends with people they know in real life;
- Insist that all social media accounts are set to private;
- Tell them not to post private information like phone numbers for texting, home address or school name.
Listen in as I discuss 4 ways to keep kids in check on social media on CTV Morning Live.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE INTERVIEW
Follow me for continuous updates and useful links about parenting in a digital age on my Facebook Page.
During a shocking 1 hour presentation, I will demystify the digital world showing parents:
- How to teach your kids about: What NOT to share, how to use social media safely, the dangers of posting too much, how some posts can harm their future reputation, why Teens are now being charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.
- Guidelines for teaching self regulation and responsible use to help prevent addiction.
- Why kids are getting addicted to video games and social media.
- How to connect with your kids so that they will want to follow your rules.
- Tricks Tweens are using to get around parental controls
* Not appropriate for children.
My presentations have been applauded across Ontario for helping children develop self regulating habits to avoid gaming addiction and excessive use of social media.
To see what other schools are saying click TESTIMONIALS.
To Book Natalia McPhedran: email email@example.com or 613-229-8955.