Title: A Girl's Life Online
Author: Katherine Tarbox
Pub Date: September 2004
Publisher: Plum ( a division of Penguin)
Source: I got this book from Tina who blogs over at Bookshipper .
About the book:
Katherine Tarbox was thirteen when she met twenty-three-year-old "Mark" in an online chat room. A top student and nationally ranked swimmer attending an elite school in an affluent Connecticut town, Katie was also a lonely and self-conscious eighth-grader who craved the attention her workaholic parents couldn't give her. "Mark" seemed to understand her; he told her she was smart and wonderful. When they set a date to finally meet while Katie was in Texas for a swim competition, she walked into a hotel room and discovered who-and what-her cyber soul mate really was.
In A Girl's Life Online, Tarbox, now eighteen, tells her story-an eye-opening tale of one teenager's descent into the seductive world of the Internet. Tarbox's harrowing experience with her online boyfriend would affect her life for years to come and result in her becoming the first "unnamed minor" to test a federal law enacted to protect kids from online sexual predators.
In an age when a new generation is growing up online, Tarbox's memoir is a cautionary tale for the Internet Age.
I admit I was cringing at times and just wanted to reach in grab Katie before she made a mistake that she would regret probably for the rest of her life.
Thankfully I grew up without computers so this was never an issue for my parents but being a parent now this really freaks me out and I worry but I think as parents we have to be diligent about what are kids are doing online as much as possible and try to keep an eye out.
Right now its not a problem because when Michael is online he is playing games on either Webkins or Lego. The one time he did go into a chat room on one of the sites he was on, he asked me about something and I came over and told him that if I ever saw him in a chat room again he wouldn't be able to go on the computer again. We talked about the dangers of it and I told him that no everyone is who they say they are.
This is exactly what happened to Katie. At first she thought she was talking to someone who was 23 (she was only 13) and at first there conversations were harmless but still this bothered me because what 23 year old would take the time to really speak with someone who is 13 unless he was after something.
Over the course of the book we quickly see him "grooming" her and before long Katie is actually starting to fall for this guy and even agrees to meet up with him at one her swim meets without anyone knowing it but her friend. Thankfully nothing serious happened to Katie but she quickly realized that he really wasn't who he said he was.
I think so many young people don't really realize that and are too trusting and willing to tell anyone anything as long as they are getting the attention they are looking for. Honestly if something doesn't feel right then trust me its not right. Go with your gut instinct, trust it.
This really hit home for me because I actually went to school with someone who is now sitting in a US jail serving a long jail sentence for luring a child over the Internet. It was someone I never thought would do anything like this.
If your a parent then this is a must read for you and your teens.