How to stay safe
Hi, My name is Asha, I live with my mum and my big sister here in Mwanza. I don't have a smartphone yet but I usually borrow my sister’s to access my social media accounts.
I’ve been on Facebook for about 4 months now. I have lots of friends and many of them are people that I’ve never met. There is one guy I’ve been chatting to for a while, and he asked for us to meet up. He was saying that I’m really beautiful and he knows that we’d be a great match. I was so afraid to tell my big sister or my friends because I thought they’d judged me or say it would be dangerous. But I thought this might be an opportunity for me to meet my future husband! I really wanted to meet him. I was so confused
But while my heart was telling me, he could be the one! There was another voice telling me “You need to be cautious about this.” I didn’t know what to do so I got the courage to speak to my big sister about it.
It wasn't easy at all, but I am happy to have talked to her. Because the advice she gave me was so helpful, and she even encouraged me to always speak to her when I need help.
Here is what she told me:
Asha, it can be really hard when you develop feelings for someone that you met online. But we have to be careful because this can be dangerous. It’s easy for people to pretend to be something they are not online. For example, we don’t know if the photos and stories somebody shares online are real. The boy you think you are in love with may actually even be an older man, using the internet to seduce girls.
Sometimes we might feel comfortable sharing our secrets much faster online than in person. But this makes us vulnerable to being tricked or manipulated. If someone online promises me something or compliments me a lot, I am wary - perhaps they want something from me.
So we should all be careful when we are talking to people online, and especially if they want to meet us. If you do decide to meet this person, be sure to take a friend with you and tell others where you are going. Never go alone. Meet the person in a public place in the day time where there are lots of people around who could help you if needed. Never get in a car or public transportation with a stranger. And don’t ever reveal where you live.
I decided not to go and meet him and I don’t regret it. My sister's advice really helped me, if you are in a similar situation try to speak to someone you trust about it.
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