To some they are seen as a bit of harmless fun. A spreading of quaint little dittys, quotes and stories. To some they are an offer of hope, a teensy ounce of ‘just maybe’ you may come into untold riches within 30 minutes of merely forwarding on to your 8 closest and dearest friends. To others they are a threat to safety, their reputation and to their freedom of choice.
Yes I am talking about the chain letter, or the modern versions…the chain email or SMS.
Now after many years of receiving these I have become very good at just pressing delete. I no longer feel any guilt that the sender will think I no longer care about them as I haven’t sent it back to them. I no longer think I am missing out on my pot of gold by refusing to clog my friends email inbox. I no longer think that it is worth a try to forward it on, just in case my phone may ring in 42 minutes with the most amazing life changing news.
But I am an adult. What happens when our kids get these persuasively written letters asking them to forward on or else? Recently a friend alerted me to one her daughter received and I know this is not an isolated example. The letter went like this:
Hi, I am Mr Poulter. Once you read this you cannot get out. Finish reading this until it is done! As I said, I am Mr Poulter. I am 32 years old. I have eyes and I can watch u with them. I am watching u. If you don’t send this to at least 12 people I will come to your house at midnight and I’ll hide under your bed. When you’re asleep, I’ll cuddle you. Don’t believe me? Case 1: Patty Buckles Got this e-mail. She doesn’t believe in chain letters. Well, Foolish Patty. She was sleeping when she started hearing noises from her cupboard. Now she’s not with us anymore. Ha ha patty, do u know what happened to patty I dragged her in my van and now she’s in my dungeon Ha ha! You don’t want to be like Patty, do you? Case 2: George M. Simon Hates chain mail, but he didn’t want to get cuddled in the night. He sent it to 4 people. Not good enough George. Now, George is in my dungeon, we don’t know if he’ll ever get out. Ha ha George, Ha ha! Now, do you want to be like George? ………
and well you get the idea.
So if your kids receive something like this or any chain letter for that matter.
- Tell them to delete before they have finished reading it so they don’t feel the pressure of the threat or the hope
- Explain that these are actually started to play havoc with your devices and spread viruses that have the potential to ruin your ipod, iphone or computer.
- Remind them again that just because something is written, it does not mean it is true.
- Continue to keep a check on what sorts of messages your kids are sending and receiving whilst online.
Whilst I am aware that many chain letters are harmless, I think it is a good idea to get our kids in to the habit of deleting this sort of stuff straight away. We need to teach them early the signs of spam and the many forms it can take.
Carly Findlay has written a post this week. One like-one prayer, which also addresses the guilt people feel when they read Facebook memes resulting from cyber impersonation and exploitation. We need to be really careful how we respond to these often persuasive calls to like, share and even donate.
Have you or someone you know been conned by something online that wasn’t authentic?