What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Social media is everywhere! From Facebook to Twitter, from TikTok to Instagram, every teen has 1 million different ways to communicate online. The danger of course is there is no way to know if the person on the other end is who they say they are. Online chatrooms and gamers are everywhere and predators can easily spot a teen that may be isolated, socially awkward, or just starved for attention. Someone online comes on with a sympathetic ear and a few kind words and kids can get sucked in before they know it. It seems these days there are just way too many ways for bad actors

to suck people in– and young people are the most vulnerable.

And all those apps have caused kids not to have the opportunity to interact person-to-person in real time. Therefore they don’t always develop the “street smarts” necessary to make good judgment calls. Especially if they are a loner or are socially awkward. When chatting online, it’s easy to miss certain “cues” that aren’t quite right. Things that may be more easily recognizable as red flags if the conversation were in person. The major danger is of course online predators that lire unsuspecting teens into places where they may be sexually assaulted or worse sold into a sex trafficking racket. That means close supervision is an absolute necessity when it comes to online “friendships” and chats.

Be aware of changes in behavior, withdrawal, lack of energy and/or disinterest things they once liked. Teens are going through a huge amount of hormonal upheaval and are more vulnerable than at any other time in their life. Be sure they don’t give out any identifying information – last name, address school team or anything else someone could use to make in person contact. And be aware that social media bullying is rampant at this age and even younger – don’t hesitate to get involved if something is amiss.