Your kids tell me stuff. Lots of stuff. Really personal stuff. Your kids tell me all the things you have warned them not to tell strangers on the internet.
I don’t ask them to tell me this stuff.
I am not a predator or a hacker.
I am a person they watch on YouTube.
That’s it. Since late 2010, your kids have been tuned into my YouTube channel where they have watched me post videos from my home. I have invited them into my life and in turn they have invited me into theirs. For better or for worse! And I am not alone. Every popular YouTuber gets these messages from your kids all day everyday. If I get 20 of these types of messages in a day, the most popular Tuber, PewDiPie, likely gets hundreds. And there are over a billion YouTube channels out there. That is a lot of kids innocently giving out their personal info!
Here is what your kid’s tell me:
1. I know your kid’s names. And your names. And everyone else in your families names!
2. I know how old your kid’s are. Kids as young as 5 and 6 have emailed me personal details including their birthdays.
3. I know where your kid’s live. Not just “I live in Tulsa!” But their exact addresses.
4. I know where your kid’s go to school. And I know all about what teachers they like, what other kids are causing them grief, how they feel about their classes and grades and everything else you ask them to tell you about when you say “How was your day?”!
5. I know your kid’s phone number. I know their cell phone numbers and that they are never away from it. They are on their phones all night long. They are on their phones while in school. Often they are watching my videos while they are supposed to be you know, paying attention in class.
6. I know who they like. And who they hate.
7. I know how your kid’s feel about you.
8. I know when they are home alone. I get messages every day from kids inviting me over to hang with them. Just last week I got a message from a sweet 12-year-old that included this: “my mom has to work 2 jobs so i am home after school bored. you should come over and we can watch videos. mom doesn’t allow it but i don’t have to tell her.” This terrifies me and likely terrifies you.
9. I know your kid’s fears. Kids tell me all of the many things that scare them. And the list is exhaustive. Kids are scared of the world they are faced with. They are scared of being shot at while walking to school. They are scared of you. They are scared of each other. They are scared of the future.
10. I know I can get your kid’s to tell me pretty much anything I want to know about them. I get so many messages that I can’t possibly answer them all. But I try to reply as often as I can and educate them on how what they SHOULD be scared of... the predators on the other side of their screen that don’t have their best interests at heart.
The good news is, I will never hurt your kids. I will even tell them they shouldn’t share all this information with a stranger on the internet. But see, that is the thing...they don’t think I AM a stranger. They tell me this stuff because they consider me a friend. The problem is, of course, that I could be ANYONE. And if they are telling ME, a total stranger that would never hurt them all of this, they could be telling it to a stranger that WILL hurt them. And that is the concern.