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Asker

To Sam

Internet Friends

Hello. I was wondering, how do I tell my parents about my internet friend. We’ve been talking for almost a year and I know that she is not catfishing me because we’ve facetimed many times.

I am worried that if i tell my parents they’ll cut me off from her. That’s something I really don’t want happening because she brings me a lot of happiness.

I just wanted to know if you had any tips on how I could tell my parents.

Thank you

Ask Sam

Sam

Hi there

Making friends online can be a great way to meet new people but it’s important to keep safe. Not everyone is who they say they are and they could be pretending to be someone else. This is why parents and carers might be worried about people you meet online. The best way to tell them is to be honest and let them make their own mind up about whether this person is safe to talk to or not.

It’s important to be careful what you share about yourself with people you meet online, just in case they aren’t who they say they are. Don’t share your address, phone number or anything else that could identify you, no matter how much they pressure you to. Turn off your location settings and try not to share information like the name of your school or clubs you go to, because these can be used as a way to contact you or try to meet up with you without your permission.

“Catfishing” is when someone pretends to be a different person online. Even using a webcam to talk to someone this doesn’t mean that everything they tell you is true. Sometimes people think that if it’s another young person then this makes it safe to talk to them, but that’s not always the case.

Sometimes you might talk to a friend of a friend and once you’ve got to know them it can be hard to explain to other people how the friendship developed. Parents and carers might be worried that you could have been unsafe online and could focus on what sites you’ve been on and who this person is. It can help to start by explaining what steps you’ve taken to keep yourself safe online so they can see that you know the risks. Maybe then you can introduce your online friend to them.

To help your parents understand, you could arrange for them to talk to your friend with you there. It would be important to also make sure their parents are okay with this. It might be that you get both parents to talk to each other as well. If you think about friends you have in person you would usually be okay with your parents meeting them at some point,  so it can be the same with online friends.

I can tell this is something that’s on your mind so if you’d like to talk more about it you can talk to a counsellor at Childline for support. Thank you for your letter.

Sam

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