Web Deceit?

19 Aug

Letterbalm Old Man Using ComputerDear LetterBalm: I’m 13 years old and going into eighth grade. This summer I went online and began chatting and texting with a boy who said he was 14. We’ve exchanged photos, and we talk a couple of times a week. He says he lives a couple of hours away and has sent me photos and information about his hometown, school, etc. I haven’t sent him a lot of stuff because I’m a little worried that he might not be who he says he is. He’s told me I’m much prettier than the girls in his school. He wants me to come and visit him, and he’s asked for my address and physical details and to send him photos of me on the beach and in my bedroom. What should I do?

–Cyber Teen

This seems to be the week for online love. You’re smart to pay attention to those red flags flapping in the breeze. Your correspondent may be a 14-year-old high school freshman who’s showing off and talking tough. Or, he could be an old guy or a predator posing. Ms. L.B. says that you’re uneasy about him suggests he’s crossed some sort of line, even if you can’t say exactly what it is. Asking for your address or those more intimate photos, even if they aren’t offensive, might just be the issue. Talk with your parents and tell them you haven’t given him personal details or sent him personal photos. Be calm and mature and see what they say. Try this:

Mom and Dad, I’ve been online with a boy this summer. He says he’s 14 and lives upstate. We text and e-mail a couple of times a week, and we’ve exchange photos – just headshots, nothing personal. He’s sent me a lot of his information and is asking for my home address and photos of me at the beach and in my bedroom. He wants me to visit him. He’s asked for my physical details, and his requests are making me uncomfortable. I don’t know if he’s who he says he is. I know I was stupid to talk so much online with somebody I didn’t know. Can we talk about what I should do?

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