Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The dangers of the Internet: 13 year old killed as a result of online chat

Washington Post    There are few holes deeper than those in the heart of a 13-year-old girl.

For many, it is an age of painful yearning, of a life lived in imaginary cloudworlds, away from acne and algebra and all that awkwardness.

It used to be 13-year-olds would cry into their pillows. Or write in rainbow-covered journals, with rainbow pens. Their pain was private. Still, most endured, and survived.

But Nicole Madison Lovell found something we all wanted when we were 13: an audience.

There are people out there who listen to sad, lonely girls, tell them they are beautiful and smart. They were right there — in Nicole’s bedroom.

She asked them if she was cute. She flirted with them. She showed them coquettish pictures of herself. She was a social media-savvy tween when she told them all about her first kiss. Her imaginary cloudworld wasn’t private. On Facebook, Instagram, Kik, in chats and groups, she wasn’t the kid with the liver transplant scars, or the baby fat girl bullied in her seventh grade classes. She was a flirting, dating teen with lip gloss and great lines.

And Nicole did not survive.[...]

But here’s what we do know for sure: Nicole led an active, imaginary life online, meeting people on Kik, a messaging app that has been the bane of law enforcement officials these past couple years. [...]

“Kik became the latest thing,” Bacon said. “It’s attractive to predatators because of its anonymity. You can make a Kik account and you can make yourself out to be anyone you want to be.”[...]

Bacon said he tells parents to never let their kids have in-depth, online conversations with strangers. If your kid has crossed the line, ask your phone carrier to have your kid’s phone mirrored to your phone.

“Every text, every picture they send, mom and dad can see on their device,” he said.

My kids hate it when I do that. Too bad.[...]

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