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Youth Talks - A Friend or a Wolf? Print E-mail
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Written by By: Lesvi . V   
Thursday, 17 July 2014 00:00

There is no doubt that since internet was invented, the world experienced a change. In today’s society we have advanced with technology due to the need of internet. We have various types of Social networks from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Viber and Snapchat to name a few. This has made communication so much easier and quicker than before. We can Facetime, Skype and video call with someone far away or nearby and have a conversation face to face via the camera. Communication has become so easy that it has brought positive and negative impacts. This has allowed for individuals to have close communication with friends and family members that live far. Some have met their loved ones via a social network while others have met their worst nightmares and even deaths. Whether the situation is good or bad, teenagers are the most vulnerable ones to these types of situations. Teenagers are the ones who have more access to the internet and these social networks. The danger is not the internet itself but the way it may be used. Almost everyone, who has an account for a social network or even a cell phone, has a “Chatting buddy” or “texting buddy”. This is a name referred to someone who we constantly talk to. Sometimes you may know this “buddy” but other times it’s someone you don’t even know.

As teenagers we all like to make new friends. It is a part of building our personalities and lives. Social networks were built in order to facilitate communication. Many have met with people through the internet who have turned out into good lasting friendships and even future partners. Dating sites exist and despite negative comments, some individuals have had good luck in these online dating sites. Some who are married share the stories of how they met each other through social networking. Many have had some great experiences. Facebook for example has helped with individuals getting closer. A “hey” on chat can lead to an actual “hey, how are you?” in person. It has made it easier to approach the person you are interested in, whether it may be friendship or something more. Not every stranger online is a threat but it is our responsibility to be on the lookout with which strangers we are getting close with.

We are all familiar with the story of the “Little Red Riding Hood” where a wolf disguised himself as little red riding hood’s grandmother in order to get close to her and eat her. In today’s world we are exposed to similar situations where individuals disguise themselves as a friend in order to get close to teenagers. Our teenagers are being exposed more to technology and the internet day by day. There are fake accounts on facebook and other social networks. They are child molesters and murderers that are on the lookout for young and defenseless individuals. On February 20th, 2014, international news reported about a fourteen year old boy who agreed to meet his internet “friend” with whom he had been talking for months. He lied to his parents by saying that he was going to a sleep over at his friend’s house a couple of streets away. His parents gave him permission since it didn’t seem like a warning signal. But instead the boy took a train two hours away from home to meet his “friend” without knowing that the trip would have led him to his death. He was stabbed to death by his internet “friend” and his body was later found.  It is good to say that our country is not known for crimes like these but this does not mean that our country is not in danger. In order to prevent our teenagers from being exposed to this it is good to have awareness. Stories like these impact society and remind us that situations like these can happen in Belize. Teenagers must be aware and alert. Perpetrators are skilled in what they do. Not everyone who befriends you is a friend. Parents are also to monitor their children’s use of the web. Speak to your children about it, Speak to their friends; let them know the dangers of the internet.

 In terms of meeting people from the internet, please do not do it unless you are absolutely certain it is safe. It is not recommended to meet with strangers but regardless some teenagers still will. What you can do is tell someone about it, meet at public places you are familiar with and be aware. Have in mind that it might be a friend or a wolf.