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I have been noticing a trend on our Kids Pen Pals forum that is very disturbing. Kids are listing themselves as ´hot chicks´ or ´hot guys´ looking for ´hot girls´ or ´hot boys´. I have even seen kids trying to place nude pictures of models on the forum. To say the least, this is NOT COOL and VERY DANGEROUS.

Let's take a look at all the reasons why this is not cool:

  1. Pedophiles have software that allows them to search the internet looking for Web Pages, forums and chats that are for kids. They have the ability to look for your posts that say ´Hot 14/f looking for hot guy´. They can find our pictures online, even if it is not posted to a public forum or site. These people are DANGEROUS. If they can, they will get to you and then you will find yourself in a dangerous situation.
  2. Posting your pictures online makes it easy for someone to find you. Here is a disturbing fact you need to know. Pedophiles download your images and use them for their own fantasies. Not a nice thought.
  3. When you post that you are ´hot´ or looking for someone who is ´hot´ you are setting yourself up for spam. You will receive lots of unwanted emails.
  4. Posting as someone ´hot´ or looking for someone who is ´hot´ or posting inappropriate pictures gives you a bad reputation. With that reputation comes a great deal of flames from other kids and parents. You will receive emails that are not nice. People will say mean and hurtful things to you and some with even threaten to find you.
  5. Lastly, posting as someone who is ´hot´ or looking for someone who is ´hot´ or posting an inappropriate picture will get your post deleted immediately. It is not allowed on the forum for safety reasons. No further warnings are given and this is not negotiable. If I had to delete a post by you twice, you are banned from using the forum for a year. Again, no further warnings are given and this is not negotiable.

I have also had kids asking for online girlfriends and boyfriends. I have no problem with this type of post PROVIDED the post is appropriate. You must also realize that you do not know who is actually behind the keyboard, typing letters to you. They could say they are a fourteen year old female and be a forty year old man. You need to be careful.

Asking for a boyfriend or girlfriend on a pen pals forum is not always going to get you replies. Most kids are just looking for someone from another country to talk to. They want to learn all they can about a different culture and gain a life-long friend.

I realize that this is the age when kids start thinking about having relationships with people they are attracted too. It's normal and perfectly fine provided you realize a few things.

  1. Relationships at your age should consist of talking about things that are of interest to the both of you. Talking about real life problems and supporting each other is, as Martha Stewart would say, "A good thing". Holding hands and hanging out together is also cool.
  2. Being curious about sex is normal. Talking to your friend about whether or not you think people at your age should have sex or not is an acceptable conversation. Talking about sex in intimate detail with a peer is not acceptable. If you are curious about sex to that degree, try to talk to your parents about it. At least talk to an adult that you and your family trust and respect. Remember, you could be talking to a pedophile online.
  3. Making a cyber date online to chat about your week or special occasion is fine. Go out on a cyber date. Take a virtual tour together, meet in a chatroom or messenger chat with other people. Throw a party on IRC. Send each other eCards, flowers, balloons, hugs, or presents.
  4. Making a real life date with your new online friend is not acceptable. You have to talk to your parents about meeting your pal in real life. Your parents should be present and a trustful relationship between you, your friend and parents should be established before you are allowed to go out alone together. If you don't let your parents know, and you go out to meet this person, you could be walking into a deadly situation.

Lastly, don't forget that you are young. Remember that having fun on your own is important. It helps you know who you are. You don't always need to be in some relationship. Also, real life is far more satisfying than online life. Make real life relationships your priority.

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