This past week a family in our local community lost a child, a beautiful 15 year-old girl. She had been communicating with a 20 year-old man online and was murdered the same day she disappeared from her home. The man with whom she had been communicating with online has been charged with murder. Meanwhile, a family and community are shocked and heartbroken.
As the owner of ChristianNetcast.com, considered by many as an expert in technology and social media and a father I beg of you: be aware of your children’s social media activity. We all love Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. They help us reconnect with old friends and keep us caught up on what’s going on in the lives of friends and families. However, unfortunately there are those who will use social media to do the unthinkable.
Here are some helpful suggestions to protect your children on line:
1. Frequently check your kid’s friends list and who they're interacting with on social media. Be on the lookout for anyone who is older than your child recently added to their friends list.
2. Check the chat and message history of your child’s computer and social media accounts on a regular basis. If the history has been deleted you need to find out why immediately.
3. Strongly discourage your child from adding provocative pictures of themselves.
4. Talk to your kids face to face! Make your child aware of the real dangers of online predators and let them know to come to you right away if they ever feel uneasy or unsafe.
If asked many kids will respond with, “ya I now that person,” but dig deeper. It never hurts to ask "where did you meet them?" or "how do you know them?" If the answer is "online," then you need to fully investigate their communication.
I cannot begin to image the grief that the family of this young girl is feeling.
None of us want to.
Please take an active role in your kid’s social media activity.