Most of this generation’s social interactions happen online.
The chance to conveniently hide behind online personas allows a certain anonymity that attracts many potential threats.
We can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure our kids are growing up to be open and friendly but at the same time being able to identify potentially harmful online behavior.
All these cases of predators befriending youngsters online is enough to make any parent want to protect their kids from the internet.
READ: Father warns other parents to beware of online gaming predators
Facebook follower turned abductor?
Just recently, a 13-year-old girl living in Cavite was allegedly kidnapped by a 21-year-old she befriended on Facebook.
In a report by GMA’s Balitanghali, we found out that Zichiri “Taya” Mendoza simply asked permission to go to the store to buy cellphone load but never returned home.
According to her older sibling, they met on facebook. The suspect allegedly started showering her with messages, and eventually began asking her is they could meet in person.
She was reportedly last seen with the 21-year-old Jomari Ruiz who was one of her devoted followers on facebook.
But her sibling insists that Taya had no interest in meeting in person.
The story doesn’t end there.
Their investigation led them to discover that P120,000 was missing from Taya’s mom ATM account. The ATM card had been in Taya’s wallet when she disappeared.
Though they attempted to have the ATM blocked, they found out that the account had been cleaned out using machines in the nearby cities of Trece Martires at sa Dasmariñas.
Taya’s parents tried to get in touch with the suspect’s relatives who are apparently living in Parañaque City.
They expressed a willingness to pay any ransom needed but as of this writing, neither the suspect nor their missing daughter have contacted them.
Protecting them by equipping them
Incidents such as this raise many questions. It’s natural to wonder what really transpired.
The main point is for parents to be vigilant about teaching kids to protect themselves.
In this day and age, though we are constantly connected, we still can’t monitor our kids 24/7 so we need to equip them with skills that’ll help them help themselves.
Only allow them social media accounts if you know their passwords. But reassure them that it is merely for their safety and that you’re not going to open it unless it’s an emergency or you have a legitimate reason to do so.
When someone they don’t know ‘friends’ them on facebook, teach them to always remember.
1. Don’t be quick to believe everything
Teach kids to never take their story at face value. They may claim to be the friend of a friend but this may turn out to be fabricated.
With just a few clicks, predators can access your friend list. They could just pluck a name out and pass it off as a common friend.
Let doubt be their default mode. But remind them to be subtle and polite.
2. What’s in it for me?
Aside from feeding their curiosity, what would they stand to gain if you engage this person?
Teach them to be able to gauge if a person is acting suspiciously. Overly friendly strangers, usually with lengthy messages, popping up on their inbox out of the blue is an example.
3. Create a culture of communication
Since we are often busy building our online social network, we forget that the home is where all solid connectedness should begin.
So we need to help our kids remember that they can always come to us to communicate their feelings and doubts when faced with having to deal with suspicious online behavior.
READ: Kidnapping in the Philippines: Beware of kidnappers on Facebook
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