You know those moments as a mom when you can’t breath? Your heart is going a million miles per hour, but time seems to be standing still. You’re frantic and not sure what to do next. All there is to do is to hope to those upstairs that there is a happy outcome. I recently had one of those moments in my life. All thanks to the Internet.
My 14 year old daughter has been really into Anime culture, and ever since we have had a problem with her listening to boundaries about what sites she can go on. We had sit down talks with her. We grounded her from the Internet for a while. I thought the situation had all been resolved, but I was sadly mistaken.
Don’t get me wrong. My 14 y/o daughter is a very good kid. I am blessed that she still seems to be a “normal” kid when all of her peers are growing up way too quickly, but at the same time this is something that caused her to make a huge mistake.
Recently, my daughter has become a member on a website called DIY.org. It’s a great kids only website that allows kids to make and share projects to earn “badges” in various categories. Kids have to have parent permission to use the site, and the moderators even screen the kids’ comments to make sure they are being friendly. It’s a great site.
My daughter met a few girls on the site that also had a love for Anime, and they became quick friends. Well, unbeknowst to me, they agreed to start chatting off of the site using another program. These “girls” arranged to meet my daughter so they can get to know each other.
Last week, my daughter started acting a little bit funny. She was asking to go to the library, but she was insistent about the day that we went. I found it odd, but shrugged it off.
Our plans ended up changing, and we weren’t able to make it to the library. Instead, the kids headed to the park, and oddly enough Keiran actually wanted to go. That right there should’ve cued me in, because she never goes to the park with her siblings. She’s usually holed up in her room reading (at least that’s what I was always told she was doing).
It began to rain, and my husband decided to bring the kids home early. Keiran seemed distraught. Something was clearly wrong, but she really didn’t want to talk about it. After a few minutes, she began to open up. What she told me next had me in full panic.
She told me about the girls on DIY and how they became fast friends, but then she told me they had agreed to meet at the library. That’s why she wanted to go that particular day. When our plans changed, she agreed to meet them at the park by our house.
My ears were ringing. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Hadn’t we taught her about the dangers of the Internet? Hadn’t we talked for hours and hours about why she shouldn’t be so trusting?
My daughter had not only chatted with someone on the Internet, but she had arranged to MEET them. How could this be happening? I felt like I was watching a made for TV movie except it was happening in real life. Not my daughter! We had done everything we were supposed to as parents. How could this be happening?
Luckily, our story has a happy ending on two different levels because I was able to find out about this before my daughter met random strangers from the Internet, and also that the two girls did turn out to be amazingly nice. (We met them AFTER meeting their parents in person)
I am not sharing this to scare you guys, but to make you aware even if you are doing all the things you should be as a parent sometimes kids still make stupid mistakes that scare the life out of you.
Make sure that you are having those conversations and are clear that you will be looking into your kids Internet connections and emails. Our jobs as parents is to keep them safe! Don’t let them take smart phones, iPods, or computers in their room. Make them use them in open, public places. It’s a little extra effort, but it just might keep your kids from making mistakes that could cost them their lives.