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Just found out my daughter has been sharing a lot of personal info to an online friend

(5 Posts)
eliphant Wed 24-Jun-15 03:15:18

My daughter is turning 13. She games on her Nintendo 3DS a lot and made friends there. We share a laptop and have Windows profiles for each person (password protected), so usually I would not be able to see what she's been saying to her friends. I know she chats online to friends. I've given her a rundown of internet safety rules so she knows. She has very few friends in school - maybe just the one or two - and I know she wants more friends but this is something that has been like that since she started primary school. For some reason when she's with people in real life, she cannot let lose and talk freely so she's very reserved, shy and quiet, hence she finds it hard to make more friends. Online however she is very normal and chatty.

Tonight she didn't bother to shut down her account and so her windows were all open. I caught sight of a chat window on Google Hangouts and I was nosy I admit, so I went on there to see what she was chatting about and to whom.

Turns out it is some internet friend she made while playing 3DS games. Now I've seen some of the Youtube videos this friend made (she and my daughter like making Youtube videos of them playing their online games) and I have no doubt it is a genuine kid who lives in a neighbouring county. However I was a bit shocked at how much my daughter has shared with her. In the chat log, I see my daughter has, in the past month (that's how long she has known this person), sent the friend photos of me, my husband, and her siblings and herself, plus told her which city we live in. And her friend has tried calling her several times on Google chat and keeps asking her to call her back. Also her friend is the one who kept asking her to post photos of my family and stuff. Really, looking at the chat log, I think that girl is just one really bored nosy girl. I don't think it's a pedo or anything.

But my concern is that I spotted my daughter saying in the chat log, after she's posted all those personal info, that her mum (that's me) "doesn't actually allow her to tell online friends things like where she lives and stuff because of 'internet safety'"... but she was gonna do it anyway. And I'm like... what if she does one day meet some unsavoury character and is still so relaxed about posting personal info despite being fully aware she is blatantly disobeying internet safety rules?

I don't know what to do now. On one hand I am reluctant to confront her about the chat log I saw because I had invaded her privacy by looking at it without asking her permission first. On the other hand I want her to take internet safety seriously. I feel like just running through the rules again with her on the pretext that I notice she has made a few online friends on Nintendo gaming recently and I just want to make sure she is following internet safety rules? I don't think I ought to tell her what horrible things may happen to her if she doesn't follow the rules and accidentally told unsavoury characters about her personal stuff. I mean first of all, I don't want to scare her too much as it may never happy to her, and secondly, she may not think its going to happen to her or she may think I'm just overestimating the dangers, etc. I don't want to ban her from talking to her friends (online or otherwise) either as I know just how much those friends mean to her.

What would you do? I am very disappointed in what she did but on the other hand, I feel like I have failed somewhat for her to have done what she did. Not sure what's the best way to go about it.

eliphant Wed 24-Jun-15 03:17:20

EDIT : I don't want to scare her too much as it may never happen to her

eliphant Wed 24-Jun-15 03:23:03

Also there is an element of... I want her to be able to grow up to trust her own judgment. Looking through her chat log, I can see she has been assertive - for instance that girl sometimes keeps asking her if she could text her or call her now, even when my daughter was busy doing homework or stuff, and my daughter would tell that girl straight up "would you please stop messaging me right now? I need peace and quiet to do my work." etc. Quite a few instances of that. And I can see that she has used her judgment to decide whether this girl can be trusted enough to be given personal info. Myself, I had a good look at everything about the girl - as much as I can find online - and like I said I believe she is genuine. Plus her language, the things she talks about, etc. It all is very genuine. I think my daughter has exercised adequate judgment in this case.

I don't want to override her natural ability by dictating to her how she should act in her personal dealings. Perhaps I am just overreacting about this and maybe my daughter knows better than to do this to some weird unsavoury character online?

thiskiwicanfly Wed 24-Jun-15 04:17:08

Hmmm tricky.

I don't have much good advice really - we had problems with DSD when she was younger but the computer was tucked away under the stairs and she wasn't well supervised. DD has computer only in the lounge and must use her own profile - however there is a very clear understanding that I reserve the right to look at her history if I feel it is appropriate - if she doesn't like it then no computer... I'm sure I'll get flamed for invading privacy but I feel that it's more important to keep my DD safe.

For your situation, if you feel that letting her know that you saw her history when she left her session open would cause more problems than it solves, then possibly, as you suggested, a general talk around internet safety would be more appropriate. I would be concerned about her knowing that she is doing something that is not appropriate but doing it anyway - that is a bigger problem in a lot of respects than the information that she shared. That is where my focus would be in all honesty.

eliphant Wed 24-Jun-15 07:56:04

Would there be any online resources or things like that you think would be worth me sharing with her to highlight what are the real dangers? I think part of her just thinks that as long as she's sure those are real kids, then it's safe to share personal info. I forgot to say earlier that I saw on the chat log that she even told the girl her surname and real name. I can understand why she did it (she felt the girl was safe to reveal things to as the girl was in a possibility a genuine girl). I don't think blanket rules would work with my daughter unless she fully understood what the real reasons are. If I said you MUST let me go through your chat log when I want to, what's to say she won't start up a secret account for chatting just to circumvent this? The thing is she is almost a teen now and desperate for friends imo and thinks she knows it all (well many teens do feel like they are semi adults and want to have more autonomy etc.) Just would rather she not keep secrets from us. Right now she has kept the fact she revealed a lot of personal info to an online friend from us, though she knows we know about her making online friends and chatting with them. In fact it was her little sister who told us this in perfect ear shot so actually now that I think about it she has never volunteered that info to us before.

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