Guest column by Tracy Hughes
Last week, I discovered a notification on an old iPhone my kids use to play games.
It has no plan for phoning or text. The notification was from “Anonymous,” so I immediately opened it and discovered my 10-year-old daughter had downloaded an App called “Whisper” which allows people to make memes with cute photos and post them.
Our daughter had created memes with pictures of puppies, ballet shoes and horses with little sayings. Once they are posted, anyone can respond via private chat message or publicly on the post.
To my horror, this chat string contained an inappropriate conversation that included this person telling her that when he was “home alone he liked to walk around the house naked” and then later on said, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could cuddle?”
He also asked if she was from California (to which she said yes, explaining to me that she knew she shouldn’t give out her real location) and her age (which she lied online and said was 17).
I am not justifying her behaviour as she knew this was against our rules, but she chose to break them and will now have consequences.
There were also other chat threads, but none as inappropriate as this.
My daughter’s school and the RCMP have been notified about this situation.
Now before you judge my parenting, my husband and I have had many conversations with our kids about Internet safety.
We monitor the devices, don’t allow passwords, don’t allow use in their bedrooms and have a program installed to limit screen time.
We also had what we thought was software to keep content child-friendly. Apparently, this was not enough.
Our daughter has told us she knows of other kids using this app, so I want to alert parents that I do not believe this is OK. It is designed for anonymous contact and that scares me.
This experience has certainly changed the way I will handle screens in my house.
I am just thankful I do monitor enough that we caught this before the situation got any worse.