Posted in Family Life, Parenting

A Whirlwind of Deceit

I’ve been on “the Internets” for a long time now.  I’ve interacted with a lot of people and seen a lot of things.  So it was with a bit of trepidation when my husband and I decided to allow our son to play an online game on the system we got the kids for Christmas. 

Yes, we’ve talked to both the kids about online safety, we’ve laid down the rules, and they’ve honored them without hesitation.  They know, and trust, that we’re looking out for their safety.  Plus, the console sits right in the middle of the living room in full view of everyone.

The Xbox, however, has this really cool app that you can add to your Android and you can do all kinds of things from the app (even use it as a console remote when the console’s on!) when you’re not on the console … like use the messaging service. 

My son’s met a number of people while playing his favorite game.  Some of them have been kids, clearly, and he’s used the “chat hat” to talk to a couple. 

Lately though, (like the last few weeks) this one character has popped up that I’m about 90% certain is not anything like who they’re claiming to be, and am pretty certain is a predator of some sort.  There’ve been a lot of red flags.

First, they don’t have a mic to talk, but want my son to use his so they can hear him.  They text, he chats in response.  Not fair in my book and I’m about to call a halt to that tactic.  He doesn’t even know if this person is male or female, adult, kid, or Martian.  Flag.

Second, they supposedly share the screen name with a sibling, so “sometimes it’s my brother, sometimes it’s me.”  Seriously?  Microsoft allows you to have multiple people in your online family, so why would you have to share a screen name?  Flag.

Next, it was, “What’s your real name?”  Some people elect to allow their real names to be seen online.  My kids are not allowed to do that.  She (They claim to be a 17 y/o girl) made up a name for my son, then kept asking him for his real name, so he made one up.  Flag.

After that it was, “Do you have a girlfriend?”  Flag. 

Then it was, “I know we haven’t known each other very long but I think I love you.”  FLAG. 

Last night, it became, “I think I’m bi.”  FLAG FLAG! 

My son asked why they thought that and this person responded, “Because I was watching something bad and then I started touching myself.”  Oh hell to the FLAGFLAGFLAG! 

I am aboutthisclose to telling him he has to unfriend this person – at which point I know they’ll come back under a different screen name and try to start the process all over again, and my son will resent me.  My son wants me to trust him, and know that he’ll not do anything stupid, like get emotionally attached in any way or reveal anything personal.  My son’s a good kid and he’s pretty mature for his age.  I do trust him on a lot of levels.  But this is a new arena for him, one I’m familiar with, and he needs to trust me, too.  I’ve given him all kinds of suggestions on how he can respond to this person’s messages, things like, “You should talk to your parents or a pastor or school counselor,” “I’m not looking for an online romance kind of thing, I just want a gamer friend,” and “I’m not comfortable talking about these things, let talk about something else.” 

The online community can be a wonderful thing – I should know, I met my husband there!  But it is also full of a lot of dark elements – I’ve met them, too – that I don’t want to touch my kids in any way, shape, or form.  I want my kids to learn to interact with people, and also to know how to be wary, and savvy.  Those things only come from experience.  So I have to guide them, help them navigate this world.  People get suckered all the time – even grown-ups!  We simply HAVE to be careful and distrustful, as much as we’d like to give the benefit of the doubt. 

In the meantime, my son knows I’m shining a flashlight on this character and keeping my eye on how things develop.  He knows what to look for, and he knows he can come talk to me and his dad about anything that happens. 

Whoever said “the Internets” would make life easier didn’t have teens, lol!

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15 thoughts on “A Whirlwind of Deceit

  1. WHAT the FUUUUUUUUUUUU….?!!

    I didn’t know about the whole “touching myself” thing! When the f%#k was THAT?!

    Oh no. Next time I’LL send a message to that weirdo. “Hi. It’s me. Sometimes. Other times it’s one of my parents. You just never know.”

    Let’s see how long those weirdo messages continue after THAT happens.

    Yeah, I want to trust him, and yeah, I want him to know how to discern these things himself, but I’m about to pull a major plug on that POS right now. NOW.

    And will he understand it’s NOT him we don’t trust? *Sigh*

    In the end, him being angry at us for something like this isn’t our issue. We’re here to be parents, not favorites or buddies. So there’s that.

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    1. This happened last night.

      I agree, we’re not his “buddies.” At the same time, it is our job to teach him how to do these things on his own so he doesn’t need us anymore. He’s heard quite a few rants from me about this whole thing in the last few days, so he knows where we stand and what lengths we are prepared to go to. I told him in no uncertain terms that if things got even a little bit worse, I was going to have him unfriend this person, and I will report them to MS.

      I feel like one of those characters who were showing him where the platforms were so he wouldn’t have to use his Ghost, and wouldn’t fall into the pit.

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      1. Yes, we can teach him. We are teaching him. But we also have to be willing to step in if he won’t do what he’s being told to do. And we shouldn’t be asking him to do this at this point. He needs to learn to do it, yes, but he’s also a kid, and should be expected to ACT like one. So if he gets bitter because we step in and stomp this flat, that’s just how it is.

        This just got orders of magnitude creepier. For God’s sake, he’s only been on for TWO MONTHS. Are you kidding me?!

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        1. Oh he knows I have no hesitation about stepping in and taking care of it if he doesn’t.

          I know – when he told me last night I was totally WTFing.

          And it was so weird, right after I saw your comment, she popped up online, lol. Even the princess said, “Speak of the devil!” Right now things seem to be just game oriented, but he knows that any conversation this isn’t game related, you and I need to know about.

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          1. Punkin’s so awesome. AWESOME. LOL. She’s hysterical and doesn’t even know it.

            Well, keep me posted with daytime activities. I’d like to know how that person can keep the same hours HE can. Hm. FLAG.FLAGFLAGFLAGGITYFLAGFLAGFLAG.

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  2. Keeping the lines of communication open with your son is so important. You’re handling this well. It’s a scary online world out there, we all have to educate and guide our kids well. FlagFlagFlag.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your support, Miriam! It IS scary out there, isn’t it? I don’t think it was supposed to be! lol

      Yes, many flags to be aware of. Sometimes it feels like too many, doesn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. At first I thought it was weird that you and Dane had this conversation in this forum but now I think it’s important that you have done it this way. Other parental life forms can find this information online and possible find some help and guidance in it. Kudos.

    I say the Internets should be taken away from all people except those who first had the Internets: Star Trek fans and people pissed off that UNIX isn’t free.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for saying that, WIGSF. I wavered a bit as to whether or not to leave it up, the comments we had, but then I thought that there are a lot of parents out there and a lot of kids, and everyone’s going to have different parenting styles – even in the same family. My brother once told me that he could give his daughter the “you’ve disappointed me” look and she’d burst into tears, but his son could be spanked soundly and would often still be defiant. So different kids have different parenting styles that they relate to, also. Hopefully, other parents will see all this and know they’re not alone.

      I had to laugh – Star Trek fans! Yes! That would be me!! 😀 I’ve been a Trekker practically since it aired in Prime Time! Okay, I did NOT just admit that on the ‘net. *facepalm*

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  4. Well, that’s disturbing. I like your hubby’s solution: “Sometimes it’s me, sometimes it’s one of my parents. You just never know.” Perfect! 😛

    Sounds like you are handling the situation as well as possible. Obviously you’re aware that you can’t keep your son sheltered forever, so he’s going to have to learn how to handle shady characters like this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really is creepy.

      I liked his solution, too – it made me laugh out loud when he said it. 😀

      I think the player in question is losing interest in my son. They seem to have really eased up on the texting and mostly show as “offline” when he’s playing, so hopefully they’ve moved on. *fingerscrossed*

      Like

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