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It's time to have "the talk"

MacEachern Mindset

No, I’m not referring to the birds and the bees, I’m talking about safe online behaviour. 

While some may immediately think “well I’ve already had a discussion about social media conduct with my teen,” that’s not the only way of communicating online. 

According to local RCMP, there’s been a case involving a Bonnyville youth where someone they don’t know attempted to coerce them into talking over webcam. 

First of all, that’s never okay, especially when it involves a child. 

Luckily in this case, the parents saw the contact and notified RCMP immediately. 

Now, the Integrated Child Exploitation Unit is involved. 

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first, nor will it be the last time that we hear of strangers reaching out to kids in any way they can. 

Although we can take a guess at their motive, I’m not sure we will ever fully understand just what they’re after. 

When something like this comes across my news desk, I think it acts as an opportunity to inform our readers about something they might not have known otherwise. 

If this parent hadn’t come forward, it may have never even crossed our minds that this was possible. 

Sure we know there are risks when it comes to anything online, but for parents who aren’t tech-savvy, the whole idea of a stranger reaching out across the void of “that gaming system your child can’t get enough of,” seems impossible. 

Yet, here we are. 

When it comes to having conversations with your kids about cellphones, social media, and what goes online, maybe add a comment or two about video games. 

And if you feel like your child is too young to be mingling with the rest of the online gaming world, there are ways you can set-up your system, whether it’s a cellphone, tablet, or video game console, to prevent them from receiving friend requests or even chatting online. 

But putting up those barriers isn’t enough. 

Have the talk with your kids, explain to them what this dangerous behaviour looks like, and remind them that old adage of “don’t talk to strangers,” applies on all platforms, whether they’re digital or not.