Yesterday in the news and on many social media sites, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, it was released that a 40 year old man was posing as a 25 year old woman, and was luring children in over social media. Beyond scary.
Seconds Save Lives First Aid & Safety Training posted the first bit of information released on our Facebook Page and within 10 hours, this post was viewed from our page over 1000 times. So, this certainly shows how this story is so very close to home to many of us.
What is so scary about this story is that children believe that the internet is all true. That if they have a question they can just Google it, or look it up and the answer will be accurate. This is just how the world is moving. We as adults also use the internet to look up various things and for the most part believe that they are true. So, here lies the problem, why would they not believe that this nice picture of a woman in glasses was not actually her?
I know that Instagram is very popular among children these days, as they can post pictures of themselves and write in the ‘hashtag’ (#) and ‘at sign’ (@) in the ways that they do to other children and read these funny sentences that they write to each other. I also know that they love to see how many ‘LIKES’ that they receive on a post, or how many people will ‘FOLLOW’ them on Instagram or ‘FRIEND’ them on Facebook. The more likes or friends they have, possibly the more popular or important they feel that they are.
About a year ago, my 12 year old son had almost 5000 followers on Instagram and he was following as many people as he could. I heard his IPad notifying him one day and I picked it up and realized what he was doing! I just thought, because he had taken the Stranger Danger; Internet Safety & Bullying 101 course, the he would abide by what he learned and I would watch him when I could on his electronics, trusting that he would make the right decisions. That was a huge wake-up call for me. Since then, he does not use social media, because we both realized that for him, it was not a good fit at this time. He realized this when I showed him how vulnerable he made himself by potentially being in contact with so many people he didn’t even actually know.
There are many videos on YouTube that show children who are actually lured to homes and cars of people that they do not know, who posed as someone who they were not. Parents have made these videos with actors to see if their child would actually ‘fall’ for these actors and go with them, and sadly many times these children went with the stranger. Again, most of these children were told not to go with strangers, however, they did, despite what the parent taught them.
What was the scariest thing for me as a mother in this story was that this was happening in Oshawa, in Durham Region, in Ontario! This man was a sales person at an arena. We are a hockey family and many times a week we are in an arena, in many different cities. This type of person can work in any profession, but as he was part of the arena staff, it hits home for me. This is the reason why the post about 'A Door can be a lifesaver or a Danger’ was made, as I always say to my children while they are playing in the arena, anyone can take you behind a closed door at any time and it would be very hard for us to find you.
Hopefully this story can help the families out there with young kids on social media. Maybe this instance, which has been shown on the news, can resonate with these young kids. I know my son already knew about it before he got home from school yesterday, and it certainly had his wheels turning. He was definitely concerned and shocked.
Our safety programs at Seconds Save Lives First Aid & Safety Training give children the tools, education and ideas surrounding safety, but in the end, it is the child who has to be mature enough to handle whatever situation that they are faced with.... with the assistance of the parent, if needed and hopefully if offered.
Be safe everyone, as Seconds DO Save Lives.