In March, Ashleigh Hall’s name was splashed across newspapers everywhere after her body was found in a ditch. The 17-year-old had done something that a worrisome number of teens do: made a new friend on Facebook and gone to meet him.
A 2006 survey commissioned by Cox Communications with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children reported that:
- 71% of teens reported receiving messages online from someone they don’t know
- 45% have been asked for personal information by someone they don’t know
- 30% have considered meeting someone that they’ve only talked to online
- 14% have actually met a person face-to-face that they’ve only talked to on the Internet (the figure for teens ages 16 and 17 jumps to 22%)
In Ashleigh’s case, her new friend was a predator who had lied about his identity, posing as a 17-year-old boy. Many were quick to point fingers at Facebook: can’t they do more to prevent people from lying about who they are online?
Check out www.kidsafe.me/blog for the rest of this article and practical tips for helping you educate, engage and protect your children.
Tim Woda is a passionate advocate for protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers – cyberbullying, sexting and predators. He co-founded KidSafe, is the author of Keeping Kids Safe: A Guide for Parents of Social and Mobile Children and is a frequent public speaker on the topic.
Copyright © 2009 Tim Woda