Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Protecting Our Kids: A Guest Post by Stacey from This Mommas Ramblings
A guest post by Stacey at http://thismommasramblings.
Protecting our kids is a full time job in today's society, with threats around every corner. As the mother of three, ranging in ages from 10 to 19, I know that the internet is a huge draw for kids nowadays. My kids, like most, know almost all there is to know about online technology. There has been a computer in the house for most of their lives, well all for the two youngest, and most for D-man. Now with all of the online gaming technology, there is even more open access to our kids. My kids have computer's, PS3's, Wii, and D-man has upgraded to a smart phone, too. They have email accounts, and facebook accounts, and other random game accounts, even though I have all log-ins and passwords to all of their account, except for D-man, now anyway. Now the boys, I worry about a little less, simply because they are a little older...not that we haven't had an issue or two. D-man once signed up for an adult dating site at 14 or 15, though I don't think that he extended that as far as giving our address to a stranger. Lil miss however, petrifies me, of course at her age, she has that innocent naivete.
This of course came to our attention a couple of weeks ago, from a simple comment that she made to D-man. He had been walking down the hall, past her room, and she told him that she would possibly get to meet her "clone" in a couple of weeks. That of course, made him think...wait...what? So he asked her what on earth she was talking about? So she told him that her "clone" was her friend on the game site, Roblox, and he was just like her and would be coming to town to see her. Now when I set her up on this site, she was set to no chatting...somehow she managed to figure out how to do change the settings to be able to chat.
Being the very protective big brother that he is, he came to me immediately. I questioned her and got answers, sort of, I know how to read my kids when they are lying or telling the truth. Of course, I took her computer and started going through the messages that had been sent to her. I realized very quickly that she had given out our address to a complete stranger, supposedly a twelve year old boy, who was talking about looking for a hotel nearby! Indicating that he was on vacation in Colorado with his parents and would be coming through our town on the 8th and would walk by our house. Of course, I completely flipped my wig!
Now as an adult serious alarm bells went off in my head. None of it rang even remotely true! As a parent, there is no way that I would drive through a town on my way back home, and plan to stop so that my "child" could meet with a complete stranger to "hang out"! We sat her down and explained again the dangers involved with trusting anything anyone tells you online. Unfortunately, because of her naivete, she really truly believes that this is a twelve year old boy. Now of course, the whole family is on alert, and she is not allowed outside by herself, at all! I have also blocked the "Roblox" site from her computer and reported both of the users who sent her elicit messages, and set up the only sites that she was allowed to visit.
Finding good sites, to keep a kid engaged, and that are free really seem limited. We of course have the standard sites, that have proven through the years to be good and safe. And while the following list of sites are good, they seem to be mostly geared toward a younger child, which leaves the "tween" age group kind of out of luck.
This is a list of the sites that we have found over the years to be safe for the kids, and though a couple of them offer a type of chat, they are extremely limited in what can be said.
Now while the day that he was supposed to come to town, has come and gone without incident. Needless to say I did not allow her out of my sight, actually, I haven't let her out of my sight for days. However, now we have noticed something that could possibly be suspicious. Luckily we mentioned the situation to our neighbor, who has four girls of his own, and he has been watching things, since we live on a busy road with a gas station across the street. So the amount of traffic that comes in and out is major. So now we are waiting to find out if there is a problem with the suspicious vehicle, because our neighbor got a license plate number and has a friend who will run it for him, and then of course we will see.
In the meantime, she has to stay in, unless one of us is with her. Her computer usage has been restricted and I will be watching her closer than ever. It is scary how easily it happened and how close to home it has hit. What do you think? How do you keep your kids safe in this crazy internet world? Are there other website's that you like for your children? Leave a note in the comments, I would love to hear your thoughts.
I would also like to offer my sincerest thanks to Jessica at The Wondering Brain for offering me the opportunity to guest post today!