Real Life Stories of ChangeWhat to Do When Online Sharing Goes Wrong – Andreanna Stewart
Victims of scams often discover their mistakes when it’s too late. Thankfully, counsellors like Andreanna are around to offer advice.A cause for concern
Counsellors like Andreanna from the Singapore Children's Society (SCS) are concerned that youths are unable to tell if something is true or not, and may end up either divulging personal information about themselves or sharing false information online. Often, youths would think that since the information did not originate from them, it is safe to spread it. They also feel that whatever they share is safe online.
“They don’t see that what they share online can hurt other people and that their actions can be irresponsible,” noted Andreanna.How counsellors help online scam victims
Once, an online scam victim contacted SCS for help. He had met a girl online who had gradually gained his trust. She persuaded him to send videos of himself doing inappropriate acts, such as revealing his bare body via webcam to her, without realising that his actions were being recorded. The perpetrator threatened him and asked for money, causing him much distress as he was at wit's end. The counsellors at SCS helped him to manage his stress and guided him to speak to his parents who filed a police report, consequently resolving his problem.
“First, we speak to the child, who may be an online scam or cyber-bullying victim to help him/her feel less isolated and alleviate their emotional distress by hearing them out. Then, we give them tips on how to better manage the situation such as being cautious about the information you share online and informing them of the avenues where they can seek help,” said Andreanna. “If the child is assessed to require further help, we will link him/her up with other resources such as school or Family Service Centre counsellors. Our work with the individual and his/her family is rooted in basic values such as kindness, respect and responsibility.”Discernment Tips From Andreanna
- Be alert and mindful that not everything you read online is real. Learn how to discern information from credible sources.
- Do a background check on the authenticity of the information before clicking ‘share.’
- Practise kindness and respect for self and others. Take responsibility for what goes online. What goes online stays there almost forever. Do a self-check by asking yourself if someone will get hurt by you sharing it.
- Be conscious of the personal information that you reveal online, as seen in the victim of scam shared earlier. At times, predators can be very patient and befriend the people you know online, giving you the false impression that he/she is a safe, mutual friend that you can befriend. When you put your guard down, that is when they will prey on you.