IT'S ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN
Recently we all saw an article about a teen that committed suicide after a scammer enticed him into sexting (sending compromising photos of himself) and then the scammer blackmailed him.
We have been looking into this issue and what we have discovered it truly frightening.
There are no statistics on scammer related suicides, but we instinctively know that it happens. With more than a million victims a year, the law of averages suggests that are certainly hundreds (perhaps thousands) of victims that commit suicide after being scammed every year. But these are adults.
BUT WHAT ABOUT OUR CHILDREN?
By definition, they all have computers, tablets, and smartphones. They all have email, and social media accounts. They are even worse when it comes to connecting with people they don't know. Kids like and friend anybody.
Have we ever talked to them seriously about scammers and what scammers do? Have we told them who scammers really are?
Children and teens may be more aware of technology, but they are still immature children when it comes to relationships, especially the fake ones.
HOW MANY CHILDREN & TEENS ARE BEING SCAMMED?
WE HAVE NO IDEA! NO ONE DOES!
Kids do not report most crimes, they are too polite or politically correct or scared or embarrassed. They suffer in silence.
We have warned them not to talk to strangers, but did we ever talk to them about these kinds of strangers? Probably not!
MAYBE WE NEED A NEW KIND OF JUST SAY NO
SAY NO TO SCAMMERS!
Many have suggested that while this is not as great a monetary crime as scamming adults, after all kids have less money, the impact can be vastly greater.
WHAT DO WE DO?
There are the obvious things we as parents can do. It starts with being a parent, not their friend. It is your job to protect them, and explain to them what and why you are doing it.
Tell them there are bad people out there in the world that want to trick them and to steal their money, and if they can't get money, they get even! Tell them, you need to make sure they and their friends are safe, by checking the privacy on their social media and emails. Tell them you have to do it because you are their mother, father, or grandparent. This is to keep them safe.
If you need to you can show them select articles about this, especially videos - however, they will not immediately understand. Kids always think they will never be affected.
It is your responsibility to keep them safe no matter how much they complain.
If you don't yet know how to tighten the privacy and security settings for their email and social media accounts, learn or ask a friend who does. And do your own accounts while you are at it, since you may very well have been the one that gave the scammer access to your family and friends.
If you find questionable people in their social media accounts, talk to the parents of their friends. Spread this word. Talk to your school about the problem, and how they might be able to help. Share this with the PTA or School Parents Association.
Share your thoughts. If you are reading this, you probably have already had encounters with scams and fraudsters.
THIS IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM IT TAKES A SERIOUS RESOLVE AND COMMITMENT
HELP KEEP OUR KIDS SAFE
FYI - In the U.S. it is unlawful for children under the age of 13 to have any account without your written permission. The provider is the one that is held responsible for this, but you should be aware of what you children are doing. The law is called COPPA - Children's Online Privacy & Protection Act