Letter: Parents need to monitor kid's social media

To the Editor:

I am writing to warn parents about the dangers of our kids using social media “Apps” on their iPods like KiK and Instagram. I monitor my son’s iPod because there have been many issues of bullying and inappropriate language. Recently, my son was texting someone who I have never heard of before. The person claimed their name was Natalie Johnson, that they were 11 years old, lived in Trumbull and are home-schooled.

I decided to investigate a bit and, posing as my son, asked this girl some questions about Trumbull to be sure she was from the area.  She didn’t answer my questions correctly, so I became more suspicious.  Long story short, on May 24 I turned on my son’s iPod and the person had asked for a dirty picture of my son to be sent to her. My son never saw this because I was pretending to be him. Then the person sent a photo to me, posing as my son. Well, to my surprise, the photo was actually a man. You could not see his face but the way he was standing my husband and I could tell it was a man and it was an inappropriate nude photo.

I quickly called Trumbull Police and an officer came to our home. He also pretended to be my son and texted with the so-called girl. He ended up taking my son’s iPod and contacting the Connecticut Internet Crimes against Children Task Force. I did make the officer aware of a couple other kids that were texting this person and the officer went to their homes to speak to their parents.

I’m writing because I know that parents need to know this. Parents don’t always check what their kids are doing on social media. The Trumbull Police officer told us that applications like Kik are used by sex predators because it can be difficult to trace them. If I wasn't monitoring my sons iPod, he could have been another child sending nude photos to this person he thought was a girl and actually was a grown man. I work at Trumbull High School and every day I see kids on social media and even high schoolers can get caught up in this mess. The bottom line is parents need to monitor all social media.

Diane Severino