All too often we hear about the dangers of online predators. We try our best as parents to shield our children from those trying to do them harm. I’m constantly checking my children’s iPads to see their browsing histories and if they have been communicating with anyone they shouldn’t be. For now, with their ages being 9 and 10, I currently have restrictions on their accounts and they don’t have access to any social media platforms. I’ve also deleted the regular YouTube app and installed YouTube for Kids to keep the content more age appropriate.
Even when we take steps like these, there are so many ways that predators can find our children and try to communicate with them. I recently read the story of a young man that was “groomed” online by a predator through a video game. This story broke my heart. I ache for his family. No parent should ever have to go through what this family went through.
Breck Bednar was a 14 year old boy who met a 19 year old named Lewis Daynes online through a video game they both played. Over a period of time, Lewis gained Breck’s trust by numerous lies about his life, businesses he supposedly ran and money he claimed he had. Breck’s family started to notice a big change in his behavior and attitude and limited to his use of electronics. His friends and family also warned him that Lewis may not be who he said he was. But Lewis continued to pursue Breck. He was such a predator that he purchased and sent Breck a secret cell phone that Breck’s parents were unaware of. Lewis would eventually lure Breck to his apartment with the promise of owning his own company and the potential of being rich, only to murder this young man in cold blood. He then calmly called the police and said “He got into an argument with his friend, a fight ensued, and only one of us made it out alive”. The 911 call was so chilling.
Lewis had “groomed” Breck online with the sole purpose of sexually assaulting and murdering him. He knew all along that he would kill this young man. While Breck’s family and friends warned him that this person could be dangerous, Breck still found this person not be a threat. He trusted Lewis by things that he said, interests they shared, and promises he made. This is what predators do. Lewis was eventually tried and convicted and will spend most of his life behind bars.
This case was so hard to stomach because our kids are so naive and trusting. Not because they aren’t smart, but because they are innocent and want to believe that people are good. Children have big hearts and will trust those that they have things in common with. Lewis used this against Breck and preyed on this young man. He used everything that Breck was into such as video games and Breck’s interest in computer technology. Breck was an extremely smart young man and excelled in school. Lewis was just a predator.
This was just one of the many cases out there that shows how far a predator will go to get their hands on an innocent child. There are more and more horror stories everyday. People like Lewis Daynes are constantly looking for children they can exploit and cause harm to.
I offer my deepest condolences to Breck’s family and only hope they are able to find some sort of peace one day.
I also want to say that children do not need access to online platforms that enable them to talk with strangers online. Social media shouldn’t be something they need but something they have earned as they grow and show maturity and responsibility.
We teach our children that they shouldn’t talk to strangers but then we allow them access to millions of strangers that they can’t even see. These strangers have access to our children’s lives and we’ve all gotten a little too accustomed to this.
Let children be children. Let them play video games like we played, without the internet. Let them spend more time outside then on Facebook, SnapChat or Instagram. Let them play in their rooms with actual toys. Encourage their talents and creativity. If they like to draw, buy them paints and a canvas. If they like to write, buy them a blank book. If they like to build, buy them Legos. Keep them so preoccupied that the internet isn’t their primary focus.
It is our job to protect our children from harm. The internet is a great tool and is full of an infinite amount of resources but the internet is also one of the most dangerous places in the world.