A 14-year-old teen was recruited by a gang to sell crack and heroin. They contacted him through Snapchat, a social media app that automatically deletes content in 24 hours – or when the user deletes it themselves.
This happened two years ago, the teen wanted to run away from home and responded to this post on Snapchat that offered him cash and accommodation. In just 80 minutes, he was picked up from his house and did not come back for a week.
His parents were desperate to find him. “When I knew what he was doing, I thought I’m going to get that call that he’s dead, because the amount of nights I searched the streets looking for him, and couldn’t find him,” his mother said to BBC.
The teen shared that he was forced to hide drugs inside his body, since the police cannot strip-search those underage. He was just one of the many youths who were recruited this way.
Snapchat says that it works to make its platform as safe as possible. Snapchat’s guidelines state the app must not be used for illegal activities, and inappropriate content can easily be flagged.
Do you know what your child is doing online?
As the example above shows, the life of a youth can change dramatically in a few minutes while they use the internet. It’s getting easier to access sites and apps that are harmful. At the same time, it’s becoming more common for parents to reduce their supervision of what their children are doing on the internet.
Parents hold the responsibility of protecting their children from what is bad in this world. But they cannot do this 100% of the time. But they should strive to do what is possible.
It’s possible, and necessary, that parents supervise their children online, including controlling the amount of time and the sites they access. After all, one of the most important roles of parents is placing limits, as children and youths still need to develop a sense of right and wrong.
Proof of this is that 33% say they have secret accounts on social media.
Apart from supervising children, never forget the power prayer can have on your family’s life. Feel free to join us Thursday’s at 7am, 10am and 3pm as we make prayers for your family at our UCKG HelpCentre’s.