This year, our school has started down the technology education road and we’ve had to purchase an iPad for my 11 year old daughter. It has been a mildly tiresome and frustrating transition, having both girls wanting their turn on it and playing games.

A few days ago, I found out that one of the games Ms 11 has on her iPad (that I purchased for her) has a feature for playing with strangers within the app (not through Game Centre). I was not aware of this until I found out she had interacted with two people – one who claimed to be a 10 year old boy from Germany and another person who called her some nasty names.

Now my daughter is pretty mature for her age – but she is still only just turned eleven.
When I exclaimed a bit of shock about her online interactions, saying she had NO idea who the person was, she replied, “No mum, he’s really nice.”

I flew into a mild panic because even though I engage in many a conversation with her, over a gaggle of issues regarding Internet use, I still have to remind myself that she is still ONLY eleven. Maturity or not, her response above only proved she was acting exactly her age – with trust.

With heightened alarm I explained how predators know exactly how to speak to children – they’ve been doing it for a long, long time.
They know what to say; they know how to groom.

To illustrate the point, I decided to show her how easy it is to lift a photo off the Net, with which to create a fake profile. I wanted one of a girl her age. I used my laptop to do this – not her iPad.

This is the moment where we hit a horrific snag.

I went to google images and wrote ‘girls’. With weary predictability, the images that splashed up on the screen, were mainly of scantily clad (mainly adult) females – nothing they don’t see virtually everywhere related to media and advertising.
So I thought I’d narrow down the search and looked for images of ‘school girls’.

I can’t believe how fast I was in covering the screen with my hands because it wasn’t the fact that now there were even more images of (mainly adult) females in their hyper-sexualised ‘school uniforms’ – it was that the second image that appeared on the whole page, was of a beheaded young girl; her body was on the right, her head on the left, facing her shoulder.

I sent my daughter out while I checked other images and then started to cry.
That image wasn’t the only one – there were a few others – peppered amongst the ‘naughty school girls.’

I know there’s nothing I can do about it, but I still wonder:

Question #198: Why has the world become so callous and cruel?

Violence and Porn. Everywhere. Everywhere.

I quickly composed myself and after thoroughly checking content, I called her back. I showed her videos and discussed Internet Safety in terms of:
1. Not knowing who you’re talking to;
2. Being very, very careful about what images and/or videos they put up (in the future).

Many of my 11 year old’s friends have Instagram – something I emphatically do not allow my daughter to have, due to the alarming statistics regarding the use of images on the Internet – that once it’s posted, one loses control of it.

She’s only eleven – halfway there to full cognitive brain development. Halfway.
The Internet certainly gave us a slap.

These are the videos I showed her. You might want to show these to your children too.

This is for young children who don’t know who they’re chatting to.

This is a great and simple video with two 11 year old girls as the protagonists.

This one is more for teens losing control of images. I think it’s well done.

Big Deep Breath.

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