This story will open your eyes to the dangers that lurk behind the anonymity of the Internet. Please read and share the tips in this article with your children without fail.
12-year-old Stella (not her real name) is quite the young entrepreneur, and thoroughly enjoys doing business online.
According to a Straits Times report (2 November 2015), Stella would use online marketplace Carousell almost every day to chat with strangers interested to find out more about the items she was selling.
The items she usually put up for sale were things like stationary, old clothes and game cards, and they helped the young girl make around $50 a month.
In March this year, Stella’s parents gave her their old iPhone 4. Wanting to make a quick buck, she reportedly lost no time in putting the phone up for sale on Carousell.
In just a matter of days, she had a buyer, who said he was a secondary school student. He offered to give $30 more for the phone than she wanted, so a deal was struck.
They “exchanged numbers and arranged to meet at a void deck near her house shortly after.”
When Stella arrived there, she was shocked to see that the buyer was not a student, but a man in his 20s who had gold-dyed hair.
When questioned about his identity by the girl, the man said he was only there to buy the phone.
But “as he checked the phone, he began making small talk and sexual advances towards her”, such as trying to hold her hands and asking her if she wanted to hang out with him.
When Stella refused, he reportedly threatened to leave with her phone. The Straits Times report says the young girl followed the man “to a nearby McDonald’s, thinking she would go off after attempting to get her phone back.”
Along the way, the man fondled her and she alerted a passer-by about what was happening. Reports say that when the passer-by shouted at the man, he ran off with the phone.
On the next page, must-read tips safety tips related to meeting online acquaintances, to share with your older children.