If you have a Facebook account and you have a friend on it who happens to be a parent — or even just a friend who likes to feel worried, disgusted, compassionate, helpful, outraged and terrified for kids all at once (and who doesn’t?) — it’s likely you received this message at some point over the past week:
“Warning! If you take photos with your cell phone — WATCH THIS!
“This is truly alarming — please take the time to watch. At the end they’ll tell you how to set your phone so you don’t run this risk!
“PLEASE PASS THIS INFO TO ANYONE YOU KNOW WHO TAKES PICTURES WITH THEIR CELL OR SMARTPHONE AND POSTS THEM ONLINE.
“I want everyone (sic) of you to watch this and then be sure to share with all your family and friends…”
And on and on. Apparently, if you rave that much, people take you seriously, because this “tip” went viral. I personally received it about a dozen times. And what was its message?
Be scared of something awful (that has almost no chance of happening, but anyway). Be very scared!
Really, that’s the warning, boiled down. It comes from a suddenly viral 4-year-old KSHB-TV clip that says that because there is a GPS locator embedded in the pix we post from our cellphones, “the bad guys” can now see where our children live, where they “recreate” (such a police verb — it means play) and where they “go to school.” It even can “locate their bedrooms”!
Which means that if you are a predator who could not possibly otherwise ever find a park, school or house with a trike in the front yard, at last you can, using sophisticated technology.
Which also means (uh, somehow) that suddenly, our children are more unsafe than ever, and it is all technology’s fault. Not that the reporter dug up one single instance of this scenario’s ever happening. Oh, no. But who cares? The conclusion is: Now parents must be even more vigilant, because so many predators are busy using GPS embeds to “cherry-pick” (TV’s word) and track down the only kid worth taking: yours. Because her smile is so irresistibly sweet!
The fact that the vast majority of crimes against kids are not committed by criminal masterminds poring over the Internet to find a stranger to stalk makes no difference to the news team. It prefers to dream up the wildest, least likely chain of events (seriously, what kind of predator has the time for all this?) and act as if it’s a danger all parents must be aware of.
And now — thanks to the “share” button — we are.
So shake, shake, shake. Those are your marching orders for today: Shake in your shoes. Creeps are watching your every move! If you love your children, be more careful!
Of course, if you don’t love your children, go ahead and take their pictures, you dreadful parent. You will suffer the consequences!!!
Lenore Skenazy is the author of “Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry).”