We have come so far since “look both ways before you cross the street” and other simple warnings to our children. Given what we are seeing in the context of social media and Internet/cell phone use these days, maybe our warnings should be a little more specific and dramatic. How about:
“Those pictures of your ______ sent to the boyfriend/girlfriend last night will be online by noon today. Concerned?”
“Can you spell f-e-l-o-n-y offense? If not, it’s ok…you’ll have plenty of time to learn in prison.”
“How is that sex offender label treating you?”
“The person you are ‘talking’ to on-line isn’t who you think—they are gathering blackmail material—and could destroy your life.”
The last warning, bold-faced for emphasis, is really our focus in this blog. On-line predators—some of whom are teenagers themselves—now use the Internet to gather content for extortion. The so-called ‘sextortion’ trend is disturbing and further illustrates how dangerous the Internet can be–check out this story at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38714259/ for specific examples of this emerging crime—one of which is from right here in our state.
Talk to your children about the perils of posting/sending material that could be used against them—the ‘sextortion’ trend is real—don’t let it happen to family or a friend.