0:00:00 – Speaker 1
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0:00:14 – Speaker 2
Welcome to nextTalk Radio with Mandy and Kim every Saturday at 10 am on AM 630, the Word nextTalk Radio is brought to you by nextTalk, a non-profit organization keeping kids safe online through cyber parenting and open communication. Find resources, videos and subscribe to our weekly podcast at nextTalk.org. Are you ready for the nextTalk?
0:00:37 – Speaker 1
So last week we discussed the question when should my child get social media? We talked about how this is going to look different for everyone. You’ve implemented the phone, the phone contract, you’ve given them the actual phone and now maybe you’re walking through the social media platforms Again. Your family, your choice. We gave you some practical tips when you can implement social media, but we also gave you some conversation starter ideas, and I love these because they’re great conversations to have with your kids at any age age-appropriate, popularity, comparisons, desensitization, and we even briefly mentioned cyber strangers. Today we really want to dive into the topic of cyber strangers because it’s an important one.
0:01:18 – Speaker 2
Yeah, one of the practical tips that we gave last week was you know, only allow followers of your kids that they know in real life and we said explain the why behind that. Well, today we really wanted to dive into that. So this whole show is kind of devoted into explaining to your kids why we don’t want people who you don’t know in real life to follow you.
0:01:39 – Speaker 1
Cyber strangers are real. They are a true and real threat to our kids, and I think we’ve all heard enough stories and experiences to know that social media is a breeding ground for these things. I mean, and it comes in so many different ways. Yes, yes.
0:01:54 – Speaker 2
I mean terrorists, drug dealers, sex traffickers, sexual predators. I mean they are all out there and we don’t want to scare you. This is not about scaring. We have a nextTalk leader, holly. She is our high school and college leader and she has this phrase that I love. She says arm, don’t alarm. Yes, that’s what we want to do today. We don’t want to scare you, we don’t want to send anybody in panic mode, but we do need to be aware and we do need to be to know how to talk to these, about these things with our kids.
0:02:24 – Speaker 1
Absolutely, and arming yourself makes you feel protected. We’ve talked about this before. When you have the information and you know that you’re having the conversation with your kids, that takes fear out of the picture.
0:02:36 – Speaker 2
Yes, you know, when you create the open communication that’s why it’s so key and why we always come back to the relationship with your child is the key, that healthy dialogue. When that is happening, when strangers try to contact your children, they’re going to tell you because you’ve already established. I’m not going to yell, I’m not going to take away your social media, I’m not going to take away your technology, but we’re going to talk through this just so I can make sure that you’re safe.
0:03:00 – Speaker 1
Absolutely so again, we want to arm, not alarm. Yes, Now thinking about cyber strangers, I want to kind of take you back to the old school. I mean when I was a kid I remember being drilled into me by my mom, by my family, by my teacher, stranger danger I mean I was kind of afraid to talk to anybody that stranger driving up with a lollipop in the car. I remember, like always, looking for the white van with no windows.
0:03:25 – Speaker 2
Yes, my mom was like do not get in the van the guy with the big lollipop.
0:03:28 – Speaker 1
Yes, and for some reason they always had sunglasses and beards, which is funny, because that’s now my husband and I go well, but the point being stranger, danger. It’s the same concept. We want to teach that to our kids, but in this new world of parenting, yes, you know, we say this all the time.
0:03:47 – Speaker 2
It’s the same issues that we’ve always dealt with, but there there’s a shift that we must recognize and it’s magnified. Yeah, you know, like when we talked about rejection, how rejection used, there’s always been rejection, but with social media it’s amplified because your kid is constantly reminding them not making the team, when they you know months and months of pictures of the team bonding and making friendships. It’s the same thing with with this, with cyber strangers. There’s always been strangers, there’s always been this danger, but now there is a hidden online danger that we do need to talk about.
0:04:19 – Speaker 1
And if you start with them, in this terminology, when they’re young, like my little ones, talking about, yes, stranger danger, like at the door and at the grocery store, but then start when they’re, you know, looking on your phone, playing a game, or when you know you’re doing an app on the iPad about strangers and how they can contact you and that it’s the same concept. So then when they’re getting older, that’s already familiar with them.
0:04:41 – Speaker 2
Yeah, so one of the things we’re seeing online with social media. Let me just give you an example. You know a movie star picture. Somebody downloads that picture as stranger, a bad person, and they create a profile and they act like they’re that movie star. And so your 12 year old or 13 year old comes home and says, oh my gosh, selena Gomez wants to follow me, like I’m so excited. Alarm should go off in your brain Because most likely, selena Gomez is not gonna be following our kids. Yes, and so that happens. People groom kids online by acting like they’re a celebrity, and that’s easily done to create a fake account.
0:05:22 – Speaker 1
You know, I actually had a mom tell me that they let a celebrity follow their child because they thought it was like a Promotional thing. Mm-hmm, again, those alarms need to go off in your head. Always look through it, always do your homework.
0:05:36 – Speaker 2
Yes, when your child tells you something like yes, another thing we see on social media so you know a child can download if, if there is a stranger who’s following a certain school and there’s a lot of public accounts so they’re not private, so they’re following all these kids and they know the school that they’re at, they can see who’s getting the most likes and who’s getting in this stranger, this bad person, can download a picture of that actual kid at school and create a fake account with it, and so this cyber stranger can pose as one of your kids friends in real life, because the accounts are public and the cyber stranger has done his or her research and they know how to access.
So what I’m telling you is this it is very common for kids to have multiple accounts, and I’m not telling you this. They’re not trying to be sneaky. They just have different purposes for different accounts and different friend groups. They may have one account for just their volleyball team, or they may have one account this is my main social media, instagram account, you know or they may have a what’s called a spam account. These are popular and this is basically where I’m gonna post jokes every day, like one a day, but I know in my main account that irritates people, that I’m posting every day like this, is.
This is the conversations that we have in our heads like why people up? So kids do have multiple accounts. But here’s my tip for you on this if your kid gets friend requested From a friend they know in real life From another account, they need to follow up with that friend in real life and say, hey, is this you? Because cyber strangers can use those pictures and act like they’re that person when they’re really not, and then the kid lets their guard down and allows them to follow them and it’s not really their friend.
0:07:20 – Speaker 1
It’s not really their friend. And now they’ve given them this open window to start the conversation of grooming. They can find out all this information from your child more about the school, their schedule, their likes, their dislikes, all kinds of personal information, and your child is thinking they’re sharing this with a friend.
0:07:39 – Speaker 2
Yes, and you know what? Let me just. You said the class schedule.
I just have to say this really quickly go there girl every fall, I’m scrolling through my social media and I’m seeing class schedules posted, and not only class schedules, but your full name is your home address, your full school name, every teacher that you have, and so that allows a window for anybody who you do not know in real life following your child. If somebody slipped through the cracks, they’re gonna be able to show up at your school and say so, and so has this teacher for third period. I need to pick them up. A complete cyber stranger could do that. So, even though my daughter’s account is private, I will say to her you’re still not posting personal information online, because what if somebody slipped through the cracks? Or what if somebody screenshots it?
0:08:27 – Speaker 1
Any of your friends could screenshot it and then post it on their social media, and they have public followers, and so just always take those extra precautions and that’s why we always say stay one step ahead of your kids, because you have to remember they are not thinking through it the way that you are. They’re thinking I wanna connect with my friends. I want them to see what class we’re in. Do we have the same teacher? You know? Blah, blah, blah blah. Are we gonna be at lunch at the same time? That is all they’re thinking about. The social aspect of social media. It is our job. Just like you wouldn’t give your kid the keys to a car without showing them how to drive that car or putting them in lessons.
It is our job to be thinking about these things and being one step ahead so we can walk them through these conversations.
0:09:08 – Speaker 2
Yes, If you’re just now tuning in, welcome to nextTalk Radio with Mandy and Kim. Every Saturday at 10 am on AM 630, the Word nextTalk Radio is brought to you by nextTalk, a nonprofit organization keeping kids safe online through cyber parenting and open communication. Find resources, videos and subscribe to our weekly podcast at nextTalk.org. Are you ready?
0:09:31 – Speaker 1
for the nextTalk, all right. So we’ve got social media on their phones, we’ve had these conversations with them and now we’re kind of thinking about the cyber strangers aspect of this, which is a really big deal, and that’s why we’ve dedicated this show to it. Some of the things that you need to talk about with your kids this one seems obvious, but you need to have this conversation. If you wouldn’t open the front door to a stranger without mom or dad, we’re not going to FaceTime, chat, dm, which is direct message, or any other type of communication with a stranger online. It’s the same concept. It’s the thing we’re teaching them about stranger danger as kids.
0:10:07 – Speaker 2
Yeah, and you know I need to say this disclaimer don’t get mad at them if they’ve been caught talking with a stranger. This is the way they’re growing up. It is so normal for kids to be playing games and somebody say, hey, where do you go to school? And they don’t think there’s a danger there because this is their life. The online world seems so normalized to them. To us it is foreign and I get that and we’re in a new area of parenting. But you know, just going off and yelling at them, I can’t believe you would be so crazy as to talk with a stranger. They don’t realize it, they don’t realize it and that comes back to that. You remain calm, be that safe place.
0:10:48 – Speaker 1
Parent filter always Breathe breathe step away, think it through. I mean, I think of it. As you know, this online world is kind of like a neighborhood for them.
This is their neighborhood, you know if you moved on to a new street with your family and your mom and dad. Let you play a little bit out in the front yard and a neighbor came by and said hey, who are you? Your natural reaction would be like oh, my name is Kim and oh, do you go to school here? Welcome to the neighborhood. Yes, and you’d have this conversation and that would seem normal. Think of the online world for them, in social media, as their little neighborhood. They don’t think anything of having these conversations, so we have got to define for them that, just like on the real block, there could be someone coming up in the white van. Yeah, and you need to be aware of who that is yeah.
0:11:35 – Speaker 2
So you know, we started this conversation about cyber strangers when they were little I mean, you know, nine and eight or nine really and I would have started it even before then, but I missed it, and I explained that in my book how I completely missed all of this, and that’s why I wrote a book about it, because I don’t want any other person to miss it like I did. I wish I would have started these conversations at two and three, but the one thing that we’ve moved into now, you know, with my nine year old boy, we talk about cyber strangers online because he’s a gamer, and so we talk a lot about that. With my daughter though now she’s a teen and the conversation has deepened and so we talk about grooming now, and I go into detail about how people groom kids online, and so we wanted to cover a little bit of those for you. And this is scary. This is scary stuff right here.
0:12:25 – Speaker 1
It is. And again, we want to arm you, not alarm you. We just want it to be on the table so you’re aware of it, so you’re keeping your eyes open and you can appropriately have the conversations age appropriate with your kids, so they know what to look for.
0:12:39 – Speaker 2
So it’s really easy for an online stranger to start chatting with your child and find common ground really easily, especially if they have a public account, because they’ve been following your child and they know their likes and dislikes. So it’s really easy If the child has ever posted I’m mad at my mom or I’m mad at my dad, real easy for a cyber stranger or an evil person to come in and be like I get it Like parents or this or parents or that. Often, cyber strangers are very nice, very nice. They’re patient. If you don’t respond back right away or you don’t want to talk about a certain issue, they will back off.
0:13:17 – Speaker 1
And a lot of times, if they get into the mode where you’re trusting them and you have developed this relationship with the cyber stranger, they will plan a meeting and nothing will happen at first meeting because in the process of grooming they know that they need to gain your trust in order for you to eventually be pulled away from your circumstance.
0:13:36 – Speaker 2
Yeah, and then we see it time and time again that sometimes then the parents find out about this relationship and they may find out oh, you met this person. And then the parents rightfully so we lose it. We’re like what in the world are you thinking? And we take away the phone and the walls go up and what happens immediately is when they leave our house, they have access to online stuff. They’ll borrow kids phones I mean, they trade phones like musical chairs? They sure do and so then they’re contacting that person. And then what happens? That person becomes their safe place and the parents become the bad person. Let me just pause right here. Having a teen girl, because let’s go back to that. First show John 1010. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. And first Peter 5, a Satan walks around like a lion waiting to pounce. We must have our guard up, parents. We must, because we don’t want our kids to be manipulated into thinking we’re the bad person. We are not the bad person, we are the safe place. I like to call it online manipulation.
0:14:49 – Speaker 1
You know the grooming that we’re talking about here. You have to imagine that these people are experts at it. They know that if they follow the sequence of events and the way that our child at this age, when they’re so vulnerable, the way they’re wired, they will walk right into this trap and it is meant for you to become the enemy and meant for them to cling onto this cyber stranger. It’s a plan. It’s a long-term plan. So you’ve got to have this conversation with your kids so that, if it happens, you’ve already set the standard there. They’ve already had this conversation with you, so you can point them back to that and you can come together as a team versus becoming the enemy.
0:15:32 – Speaker 2
And again, we don’t want to scare you. We want to speak this into the light so that you can. We want to reveal Satan manipulating our kids so that we can have a plan to combat the enemy’s plan. And our plan is we’re not going to overreact. We’re not going to scream and shout and be like you’re so dumb for communicating online with a stranger. We are looking in their online world and saying, oh my gosh, this is normal for them. It doesn’t mean it’s right, but it’s normal for them to talk to strangers online. And now the enemy has come in and there’s this great divide between me and my child, because I’m taking away all the phone and this person who I don’t even know has become their safe place. We can’t let that happen. We have to be the safe place and we tackle that. I think it was in our first show. You can go back on our podcast and listen to that Tips on how to create that safe place for your child. But you need to be the safe place.
0:16:26 – Speaker 1
You know, recently something called the blue whale game became known. Yeah, yeah, it’s a really sad state of affairs.
0:16:36 – Speaker 2
You know, we were contacted about a month ago actually about six weeks ago about the with the blue whale game at nextTalk and at that time we did some research locally. There were no reports in the US of the blue whale game, it was only in Russia and there were some other areas. I checked it out at Snopes and it said you know, we can’t confirm that there has been an actual increase in suicides because of it, but we can confirm that the game does exist. So, kim, why don’t you tell them what the game is like?
0:17:07 – Speaker 1
Well, a cyber stranger creates a closed online group. That’s the first thing they do, and then they put up 50 tasks.
0:17:14 – Speaker 2
Yeah, like listening to a song. They start out easy tasks, normal things. Yes, listening to a song Again, gaining your child’s trust, the bond, the online manipulation. Then it escalates and then a task may be self-harming, like cutting. The final challenge is to commit suicide.
0:17:36 – Speaker 1
It’s hard to imagine that there is number one, someone more than one cyber stranger, who is using this type of manipulation, and it kind of also appeals to that gaming mentality. Yeah too, and then it’s also hard to understand as parents that our kids would fall for this.
0:17:53 – Speaker 2
0:17:54 – Speaker 1
But they do because again it is manipulation.
0:17:57 – Speaker 2
The Cyber Strangers becomes the safe place and again we got to have our guard up and we got to know how to create the safe place. So we’re the place that they run to. This Blue Whale game is now their reports in Florida and Alabama, so it has reached the US now, and so we sounded the alarm over at nextTalk. I wrote a blog post about it at mandymajorscom. You can check it out. But here’s what I want to tell you, because I had consistently talked to my teen about Cyber Strangers and then we had talked about grooming when she got a little bit older and I felt like she could handle that.
When this Blue Whale thing came out, it was a real simple conversation on the way to school and I said, hey, have you heard about the Blue Whale game? No, what is that? Well, these people gain access, they manipulate you online, they ask you to do little tasks. You know? I explain it to her and I said it ultimately ends up in cutting and then suicide. Her response to me was wow, that sounds a lot like grooming that we talk about. She knew, she knew. So it was an immediate conversation.
0:19:01 – Speaker 1
It was simple, but the groundwork had already been laid for me to just have that conversation you know, and that’s the key, is all of these conversations setting that groundwork, getting it to be a normal part of the conversation, coming and going day to day. You are their safe place, they know they can talk to you about any of these things. So then it’s again not a sit-down conversation, like we need to have a talk about the Blue Whale game and it becomes this serious, that it is just a part of the day where you are going back to these touch points.
You know where they understand. Oh, I recognize that. We’ve talked about that. This is online manipulation, I know all about it. And then they feel like okay, I’ve got this Normal, routine conversation. Normal routine and it becomes a part of who they are, so that, when they are away from mom and dad, they can recognize these things on their own. And that’s the goal.
0:19:50 – Speaker 2
Well, and when there’s a national story and there are a lot of these days where a child goes missing and then they’re found to be with a sex trafficker because they check their phone, and you know, we see this over and over again I will let her we’ve had these conversations. Now she’s aware I will tell her about the situation I’ll be like. And now she’s gone and her parents are frantic and we have to pray for her safe return because she trusted an online stranger and this is why we never talk to people we don’t know online. You know, just continually going back to that, it’s not just one conversation, it gets more detailed as the time goes on.
0:20:22 – Speaker 1
And you can start that when they’re young With my kids my son that has a tablet we have talked about that with one of the games that he wanted to do. It allowed for different players could log in and their name is posted on the upper right hand side of the game so it shows their score. Now you can enable the ability to talk with them or you can turn that off. And so he had heard about this game from a friend and said, oh, it sounds like a really fun game and it’s a cool game and it’s an age-appropriate game.
I did the research but those names up on the upper right hand corner that are scrolling through even though we could turn off the feature to talk with that person some of them were inappropriate and all of them are people my son doesn’t know. And at a young age I wanted to set the standard for him that we don’t need to be interacting with strangers. Yeah, now, when he’s a little bit older, when he’s a tween, maybe we can talk about those things and implement that as part of gaming. But as a young kid I want to set that standard and I already planned that seed that we don’t need to be in a situation where there’s strangers looking at us or them. Even though it’s only names, that starts young, so that it’s normal conversation like we’re talking about as the issues get more difficult.
0:21:37 – Speaker 2
Well, and when you set that precedent, they have the internal red flag filter. So let me tell you about what happened. This happened back in January. I wrote a blog post about this, too.
My daughter was sitting at our kitchen island and I was right across from her unloading the dishwasher and she was playing Roblox, which is very popular among elementary kids. Like I’ve talked to some high school moms, a lot of the older kids don’t play this. So this is a younger app and my 13 year old was playing it. She was 12 at the time and she I was doing the dishes and she said mom, I got to tell you something. And I said what, honey? And she said there was a person on Roblox who just started asking me where I went to school, what my name was, what my age was. And I said what did you say? And she started laughing and she’s like I told them about Felicia, you know, and we laughed about it. But then I said to her you know, I really started thinking about what just happened. Yes, right across, I mean, she was in my home, safe. I was looking at her, yes, and there was a stranger reaching out to her online. That could have been the start of a grooming relationship.
0:22:43 – Speaker 1
0:22:44 – Speaker 2
And so I said to her Would you have? What would you have said? What would have been your response had we not always talked about cyber strangers? And her response made me want to cry because she said how would I have given in my information, like if you had not told me mom, that’s just what you do, you’re gaming, you’re having fun, you’re talking with people. It’s hard to hear. I would have just given in my information. And you know, it was just. I keep having these light bulb moments and I’m like Lord, please stop the light bulb moments.
0:23:13 – Speaker 1
I can’t take anymore.
0:23:14 – Speaker 2
It’s a lot to process, but it was just another reminder and so it’s so important to start this conversation early and I mean, I don’t want to be dramatic, but we could literally save a life here, absolutely.
0:23:26 – Speaker 1
We could literally save a life. When we talked about this game that I’m telling you about with the names at the top, and why maybe it wasn’t a good idea, my son said well, why would anybody want to get to know me or take me? I’m yours and for a little kid that’s where they come from. But being able to talk about it as a kid and explain to him then when he’s an older kid’s age, then it’s a normal conversation.
0:23:52 – Speaker 2
Yes, it’s very normal, and so, to wrap up, today we have three things for you. One set clear roles for interacting with cyber strangers. What are your family guidelines? Number two give examples of how cyber strangers try to contact kids online. Three be alarmed. Be armed, but not alarmed. Continually talk as new situations come up. We always want to remain calm. This is going to be like anything else we talk about, like sex, like pornography, every topic that we cover here. It’s going to start out real basic and as they get older, it’s going to get more detailed, and that’s the kind of conversation we want to create On the go, all the time, open communication with your kids.
0:24:36 – Speaker 1
You know we’ve covered a lot of ground here about cyber strangers. Another main thing we need to talk about, not just when our kids get social media, but at any age when they’re playing on screen, is pornography. It’s one of the biggest dangers our kids face today and we are going to have a full series on pornography to equip you for the difficult conversations surrounding this topic. We’re going to have special guests to address the nature of pornography and how it can affect your kids, your marriage and community. It’s the real deal. It’s a public health crisis.
0:25:05 – Speaker 2
It is too. I mean, there are actual states that have declared it a public health crisis. We’re going to give you resources, books that we suggest reading with your little kids to help you start this conversation, cause I know it’s a scary thing to talk to your littles about pornography, and so we’re going to give you all of that in our series. It’s coming up and we’re putting that together for you now, and we want you to be excited about what’s going to come of our pornography series.
0:25:32 – Speaker 1
Thank you so much for joining us today on nextTalk Radio with Mandy and Kim. Every Saturday at 10 am on AM 630,. The word nextTalk Radio is brought to you by nextTalk, a nonprofit organization keeping kids safe online through cyber parenting and open communication. Find resources, videos and subscribe to our weekly podcast at nextTalk.org. Are you ready for the nextTalk? We’ll see you soon.
Transcribed by https://podium.page