Is my online friend safe?

Ivie shares her eye-opening story

Is my online friend safe?

I met Anne in a chat room for girls. She looked friendly in her display picture. She loved dancing as much as I did.

Anne knew exactly how to cheer me up. If I told her that my mum scolded me, she’d crack a joke and make me laugh. Although we’d never met, I knew we were good friends. She understood me well.

One evening, we were chatting as usual. She asked me how much my mum made. I said that I didn’t know. The next day, she asked me if my mum kept money at home or in the bank. I told her that sometimes my mum kept money in her pillowcase. She said I should go get some for us. I explained that I couldn’t because it was wrong.

Anne stopped replying my messages. I missed her and I just wanted to make her happy. She would have done the same for me. So I removed loose change from my mum’s pillowcase. Then I sent Anne a message telling her what I’d done. She responded with a big smiley face. She requested for my address. I typed it and prepared to hit send.

But I had a weird feeling in my tummy. The kind I got whenever I was nervous. I told Anne that it didn’t feel right to send her my address. She sent an angry red smiley. She said that she’d show me what she did to girls like me. I realized that I was in trouble. I went to my mum and owned up. I was so ashamed of myself.

My mum told me to always report any creepy online friend to her. She showed me how to block Anne in the chat room. I did not know that most websites allow me to block and report people I don’t want to contact me. My mum also banned me from going online for three months. Then she made me promise I’d never steal again. Now I know ‘Anne’ was never my friend.

The internet can be fun but remember to treat it like your home. You will not open the door for any stranger who knocks on your door. Protect yourself in the same way online. Let’s keep our eyes wide open. If an online friend makes us uncomfortable, asks us to meet them, or to do anything wrong like Anne, we need to tell a trusted adult immediately. Do not meet with such people or give them your personal details.

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