I was absolutely floored last week when my son mentioned he’d given out his cell phone number on the internet. We’d recently had the conversation about the dangers lurking on the web when I presented a program on internet safety to our middle school so my brain couldn’t wrap itself around the fact that he blatantly went against the number one rule in our house for using the internet: NO PERSONAL INFORMATION is to be given out for ANY reason!
I was furious. I raised my voice in a manner reserved for serious offenses and felt panic well up inside my body. What would have possessed him to be so careless? What part of “grooming” (a term we’d discussed) did he not understand? (Grooming is when a predator will pretend to be whatever sex or age he needs to be in order to lure a child into trusting him so the child will reveal personal information.) I took a deep breath and sat my son down for a long talk about how serious this situation could be.
This time, I was very specific about what can happen when personal information is revealed to someone he doesn’t know. He was in a popular game room for younger children and told me he knew this person was a girl his age from England. I asked him, “How do you know she is from England?”
“She told me she is. She gave me her phone number too.”