Internet predators

Q: I picked up my 14-year-old daughter’s cellphone by mistake and saw a number of messages to her from a “boy” named Jack. He was saying he loved her and that he was disappointed the photo she sent wasn’t nude. We’ve talked about Internet predators and she says she gets it — so how should I handle this? I’ve been gently asking her about her cyberfriends and she gives on everybody except Jack.

Q: I picked up my 14-year-old daughter’s cellphone by mistake and saw a number of messages to her from a “boy” named Jack. He was saying he loved her and that he was disappointed the photo she sent wasn’t nude. We’ve talked about Internet predators and she says she gets it — so how should I handle this? I’ve been gently asking her about her cyberfriends and she gives on everybody except Jack.

A: If your daughter thinks you’ve been invading her privacy, she’ll be less likely to open up about what’s going on. So rather than confront her about the messages from Jack, tell her you saw his name when you accidentally picked up her phone, and you haven’t heard about him. Tell her that even though you trust her, you do worry about Internet predators. Tell her that’s what parents do.

Often kids will listen to adults other than their parents, so try taking her along to an Internet safety course for girls and women in your area. The instructor’s words may go a long way toward keeping your daughter safe, now and in the future.