What is your kid doing online?
If you are a parent, and were asked this question, could you honestly answer that you know?
Do you just assume that your tween or teen does not do anything that could put them at risk or do you know this for a fact?
The recent case of the 11-year old New Hampshire girl who disappeared from her home raises many questions about kids and Internet safety.
Celina Cass (who was only in the 5th grade) had been on her computer in her bedroom when her mother and stepfather last saw her. When they awoke the next morning, Celina was gone.
Celina had a Facebook profile which was not set to private and several of her Facebook friends had profile pictures that bordered on being pornographic. This girl was ELEVEN!!!!!!
Her body was sadly found in a river less than 1 mile from her home. How did she get there and who did this to her? Many questions remain but the suspicion is that she was lured out of her home by someone she "met" online.
As a parent it shocks me that an 11 year old would be interested in "hooking up" with someone. It surprises me that I am shocked by this but I am. I am a mom of 4 daughters and thankfully, only one is growing up with the Internet.
I think that many parents naively disregard the lure of the Internet to young girls. Don't assume that your daughter (or son) may be lonely and may be at risk to be fooled by someone that they meet online.
Many adults are fooled by people that they meet online. You cannot trust someone's identity online unless you know them in the real world. Anyone else can be anyone.
Parents need to emphasize this to their kids. When parents think "not my child" they are not facing reality nor are they preparing or teaching their child about the dangers that exist in the world.
For the safety of your children- NEVER ASSUME ANYTHING!!!!!!!
Talk to your kids about online safety. Know what they are doing. If they have a Facebook page, check it out. Ask questions. It is your job to know what they are doing online and to monitor any behavior that makes you feel uncomfortable.
A tragedy like Celina Cass SHOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED!!!! I am sorry for sounding as if I blame her parents for what happened to her. I know they are dealing with the most horrible situation a parent must deal with but the truth remains that an 11 year old girl should not have unmonitored use of a computer.
Maybe her parents are not familiar with how social networking works. It is not so unbelievable to think that an adult could be ignorant of social networking. My husband uses the computer for fantasy sports. He has zero clue about how Twitter, Facebook or any other social network site works.
Not everyone has a Facebook account. If you are a parent, you may not understand that kids and teens today communicate online. "Why don't you just pick up the phone and call them?" is a question that I hear from other parents.
I have to laugh. That is something my 75 year old mom would say. Parents- GET WITH IT! This is the future and we need to teach our kids to avoid the inevitable dangers that exist by communicating online.
Let us all learn from this tragedy. Keep your kids safe. Ask questions today.