INTERNET SAFETY: When Good Trades Go Bad

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This story, by Digifam blog contributor Melissa Brodsky, tells a great and cautionary tale about both the amazing power of the internet and the dangers. The people on the other end of an exchange like the one described may not be your friend, or even who you thought they were.  Don’t be paranoid, but it makes sense to have some basic ideas of internet safety.  Be cautious out there!

My son owned an Android phone.  He had owned an iPhone previously.  Well, being the ever wishy washy teenager, he decided that he MUST have another iPhone.  Immediately, if not sooner.

Stuck in a contract with Verizon, my son decided that his only hope was through a trade.  So, he did what any internet savvy teenager would do in this dreadful situation, he perused Craigslist in hopes of finding someone with the phone he wanted looking to trade for the type of phone he had.

He found someone.  They traded.  They agreed that there would be “no trade-backs”.  It was a done deal.

Until, two days later.  The 22 year old kid that my son traded with began harassing my son via text.  It seemed that this guy, we’ll call him The Jerk, wasn’t happy with the Android phone and so, he wanted his phone back.

Well, according to the fair trade agreement that they made, there were no trade-backs.

ALL DAY LONG, for a couple days, my son received text after threatening text.  “You’d better trade back or you’ll be sorry” was just one of them.  Other texts included colorful yet derogatory names directed toward my child.

A few days later, the text harassments have slowed with only one or two a day, usually asking my son how he’s enjoying the phone that isn’t rightfully his.

Well, it IS rightfully his.

We are lucky though.  Because this guy doesn’t have any idea what my son’s name is, what he looks like or where he lives.  The actual trade was made through my son’s dad. I can’t help but feel that if this guy knew more information about my child, this would be an altogether different type of story.

We were also lucky because at least one of us was informed about it (I didn’t find out about the trade until after the fact!)  But in cases like this one, it’s easy to imagine a teenager doing something like this without consulting their parents, leaving the minor at risk for devastating conclusions. (FYI, we took these ongoing text messaging harassments very seriously, as did the police.)

Sometimes, the texting world enters the real world- with disastrous results.

So what’s the moral of this story?

1) Teenagers and tweenagers need to realize the importance of being open and honest with their parents.  They don’t need to live in fear, but they do need to be made aware of the possibilities and the consequences of mixing the real world and the internet world.  Not everything is as it presents itself.

2) What our kids really, really need to “get” is, sometimes they do NOT want their online world and their real world to collide.  Knowing when and where  the appropriate time to mix the two is part of the “art” of growing up.




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 Melissa Brodsky has been involved in blogging and social media since 2006.  Melissa is a full-time mom of five aspiring bloggers/digital media creators.  She is a freelance writer social media strategist who has worked with small start up companies as well as some big names.  Melissa has been featured on the Dr. Phil show, WDIV Channel 4, in the Detroit Free Press and various other publications and radio talk shows. 

 You can find her Social Media Services at Smart Savvy Social, and her blog at
Filed under: Issues & Ideas

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