Imagine getting a text message threatening that if you don’t forward it, someone will come to your home and kill you…sound scary? Now imagine it coming to your child.
A 10 year-old girl receives a haunting text message saying “If you don’t forward this to fifteen people, I’ll come with a knife and kill you tonight.”
Many parents buy their kids cell phones for safety reasons, so that they can keep in touch while walking home, sleeping over, or going to the movies alone. But for one family, texting is no longer their favorite feature.
The girl got a message so chilling it would make any parent think twice about buying their child a cell phone. The mystery sender with an unfamiliar number called herself "Jenny." “Jenny” described herself as a 7 year-old ghost with red eyes. The little girl who got the creepy message in her inbox told NBC10 Investigator Lu Ann Cahn, “I think the person did it because they wanted to scare someone.”
NBC10 Investigators discovered that this was not an isolated incident. Threatening text messages that are supposed to be practical jokes are spread quickly in a ghoulish game of whisper-down-the-lane.
But there are things parents can do to make sure the high-tech device is helping, not hurting. Cell phone providers like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and others offer features parents can buy. These companies offer options that help people with anything from avoiding spam text messages to setting texting limits.
Get Wise About Wireless is an initiative by The Wireless Foundation to teach children and their parents about safe cell phone use. Here are just some of their tips:
- Do not give out your address or other personal information on a phone call, text, or email to people you don't know, or if others can hear you.
- Do not respond to an email, text, picture, or voice message from someone you don't know.
- Tell an adult you trust if you receive anything on your phone--a call, a text message, an email, a picture, or voicemail message--that makes you uncomfortable.
- I will not pass along or give any other support to a hurtful message sent to me about someone else.
All of these tips and more are available on their Cell Phone Savvy page. There is also a Parent/Child contract for responsible cell phone use with talking points for you and your child like “I will not pass along or give any other support to a hurtful message sent to me about someone else.”
For even more tips on keeping your child safe, check out these websites: