As parents, we naturally worry about the safety of our children. As they get older, it seems there is more to worry about. I suppose that’s because as they get older, they are allowed to do more.
Our oldest is 12 and has her own cell phone, so that we can be in touch with her when she goes out with friends. She has her own computer and we set up a Facebook page for her.
We didn’t make these decisions without first weighing the pros and cons. Her Facebook page is unsearchable and has very high security settings, and we have the password to all of her accounts, in order to keep tabs on her. We also sat down with her and discussed being safe, not giving out information and not talking to strangers.
I check her email, her phone and her facebook fairly often and have never seen anything that worried me...until now.
Last week, I asked to see her phone and found a text from someone on TextPlus that I didn’t know. That, in itself, is not unusual, because on TextPlus you make up nicknames. Usually, after reading a few of the messages, I can figure out who it is.
This time the messages were different. Someone was asking her name and where she lived, obviously not someone she knows. To my dismay, she was answering the questions.
He asked how old she was, and she said, “12, U?” He was also 12. What a coincidence. He wanted to know if she had a boyfriend.
I asked her if she knew this person and she said no. She had told him her name, her age, where she went to school and where we live—town and province!
That night, after the younger kids were in bed, we sat with her and explained how scary this was. We told her why she couldn’t give out that information. We told her how, although it’s not impossible it’s another 12-year-old, sometimes creepy people ask for that information to hurt little girls.
In the end, we were both crying and the message got through. I hoped it wasn’t too late.
Once she was in bed, her dad and I sent a message to Gedeon666 (the person she had been texting), saying it was her dad and asking who he was. We wanted to be sure it wasn’t a friend playing a prank.
It wasn’t until the next day that there was a response. Since we had taken away her phone, I got the message. It said: “You funny girl.”
I assured Gedeon666 that it was no joke and that I intended to report him should he send any more texts to her. He texted back and forth with me a little, trying to assure me that he was just trying to be friends. I could tell by what he was typing, he wasn’t a 12-year-old. He confirmed that later in the conversation.
In the end, he started to get rude with me, so I reported him. TextPlus tells me they have removed his profile for breaking their rules. That makes me feel a little bit better.
Having never used TextPlus and not having a profile with them, I don’t really understand how this person got in touch with her. She tells me that she doesn’t even have a TextPlus account.
I’ll be looking into it further, but I wanted to post this to warn other parents, and to see if anyone has any insight into it that they can share. Do you use TextPlus?