Using fresh news stories can be a great way for parents to spark discussions with their kids and teens about how to be a good cyber citizen. “Table Talk” is a series on Breaking Free, passing along recent headlines about Internet temptations and dangers. Use the questions provided to get your family thinking about Internet safety and responsibility.
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Mom punishes her daughter by changing her Facebook cover photo
When 13-year-old Ava Abbott was rude and disrespectful to her mother, Denise, in front of her friends, Denise thought it was time to teach her daughter a lesson. She logged on to her daughter’s Facebook account and changed the cover photo to show a picture of Ava with a red and white “X” across her mouth and a banner that read, “”I do not know how to keep my [mouth shut]. I am no longer allowed on Facebook or my phone. Please ask why, my mom says I have to answer everyone that asks.”
When Today.com took a poll, Denise Abbot got a 77% approval rating for her actions.
Denise said, “I have received a lot of criticism. But still I don’t think I would have changed what I did at all. I think she definitely learned a lesson from it.”
Remarkably, Ava agrees. “It was my mom’s way of grounding me, and it’s like any other grounding…I don’t see why it’s this big of a deal.”
Denise’s intention was to punish her daughter in a way that would teach her daughter empathy. Denise surmises, now she knows how it feels to be embarrassed in front of other people.
Questions for discussion:
1. Did the punishment fit the crime? Was this a good way for Mrs. Abbott to make her point to Ava?
2. Should teens expect complete control of their online profile without parental oversight or interference?
Man Uses Anonymous Chat Site to Sexploit Potentially Hundreds of Young Boys
It could be the largest U.S. case of online sexual extortion of children. On April 13, Richard Leon Finkbiner, 39, was arrested and charged with coercing a minor to produce child pornography. He has since been accused of coercing 100 or more boys into recording and sending him sexually explicit images online.
Finkbiner used Omegle.com to meet his victims. Omegle allows visitors to engage in anonymous one-on-one video chats with strangers. Finkbiner allegedly used the website to contact two 14-year-old boys, one from Michigan, another from Maryland. He secretly recorded the boys performing sexual acts during their video chats. Then he threatened to post the videos on pornography sites unless they made more videos for his private use.
(Learn more about Omegle and other video chat sites: “Broadcasting Live from Your Teen’s Bedroom.”)
Questions for discussion:
1. Have you ever used anonymous video chat sites? Which ones?
2. Even if you never agree to do crude things in front of a web cam, what other dangers can you think of that might come to someone who uses anonymous chat sites?