A few mornings ago, my son knocked on the bathroom door to excitedly tell me he was chatting with “Him”. Naturally the next words out of my mouth were, “Who’s THAT?!”
He explained that he was just surfing the web and a random chat window popped up, not associated with any instant messaging or gaming program. He told me the person’s name was “Him” and that he had a funny whisper voice.
Of course I immediately wanted to know what things my son said to “Him” – did he tell him his real name, where we live, how old he is? We have been over many, many social stories regarding Internet safety myriad times.
Justin started crying, revealing that he told the mysterious chat guy that he was 10, which broke one of our family rules. I comforted him (amazed at his reaction to a broken rule – this is HUGE and NEW!!) but also dug further into the situation. Three things that “Him” said really alerted me:
“Don’t be scared”
“I can hear you speaking”
“How old are you?”
The chat window disappeared, and I told Justin to take a screenshot and send it to me if it popped up again. In the meantime we searched his computer for programs that didn’t seem to belong but I could find nothing. (I’m a Mac person… didn’t really know what to look for but hoped it would be obvious!)
That afternoon when I came home, Justin told me that “Him” opened a new chat window and tried to engage him in conversation. When my son wouldn’t comply the creep opened my son’s CD drive! Wha? He had remote access? The next thing you know he hid the task bar and all my son’s desktop icons.
I had him shut down immediately.
Luckily, the dog and pony show of hiding icons and opening a CD drive was the worst activity that we saw. “Him” could have locked up my son’s computer, changed passwords, or worse – turned on his webcam and watched! Ironically, it was my son that found a Remote Access Permission setting in the Control Panel and disabled it. We believe that stopped “Him”.
However, with all the items Justin downloads on a regular basis, this (or worse!) could happen again.
So how do you protect a child that figured out how to write custom code and change online video games, film his screen while walking through his tutorial process and post how-to videos on YouTube by himself?
The FBI website has some great general Internet Safety Tips for Kids. To simplify for children with Autism, I created this:
How about you? What safety tools do you have in place for your children? Share by commenting below or posting to the SOA Facebook page!