and maintainer of:
On the 8th. of May I received a weird mail from a Google mail address.
It only said:
I could see that the sender was named Sarah (last name left out), thinking that
it might be somebody who wanted to contact me for a reason, I simply responded:
Then I forgot all about it.
Then yesterday I received the following mail:
hvor menge år er du lige
how many years old are you
The word menge spelled wrong and the tone was quite loose.
Again I responded, stating my age and asking if the person (Sarah) had not got a hold of the wrong person/Jonas.
The response came promptly.
JO DET TROR JEG FOR JEG ER 9
YES IT IS FOR I AM 9
The whole correspondence had been somewhat weird, but this response sort of caught me by surprise.
These days one of the Danish news papers are running articles on adults contacting minors via certain web fora.
I responded (translated):
I hope you find the Jonas you are looking for
I expected this to sort of close the correspondence, but I received yet another mail.
JAMEN DEN JONAS JEG LEDER EFTER HAR INGEN GMAIL
BUT THE JONAS I AM LOOKING FOR DOES NOT HAVE GMAIL
I was totally baffled by this response, why the hell did Sarah write to my address in the first place? if the Jonas she was looking for did not have a gmail account. I have experienced the same on Facebook, where I was mistaken for somebody else.
I must admit that I am sort of perplexed by this whole incident, I am a father of two and my oldest kid (Villads) is 3 years old, he has just started to access the Internet. I have created an account for him on my laptop and he can only access Firefox with parental controls enabled and he does not own a mail account.
So I am considering writing to Sarah that she should not contact people without knowing who they are and that she should familiarize herself with netiquette when she would be old enough to read English - but I lean more to just leaving this alone as it is. I do not know Sarah and Sarah it not my daughter.
I still wonder how and where Sarah got my email and how she new that I would be Danish, since she wrote to me in Danish. I do not know anybody aged 9 or older with the same last name as Sarah.
And I wonder how many of the chinese, russian and other weird mails, that are from kids, who are looking for their friends or whatever.
I am very much in favor of kids using the Internet and since this is unavoidable and having kids using the Internet is not the problem, but adults unable to handle the fact that the Internet is for everybody, also kids, is.
I hope I can educate my son so parental controls can be disabled from his browsing when he gets older - I am amazed with what ease he uses a computer and with what interest he uses the Internet to get information (images/movies) and play games. But from that to writing a mail to some random email is quite a leap and especially to starting a correspondence.
I know from my wife that some of the children at the place where she works get into all sort of trouble using the Internet, again due to the adults I mentioned earlier, but they do also just do things without regard to the consequences, but that is just childlike behavior and that is not an Internet problem alone and childlike behavior is natural.
When I was a kid we where not really allowed to talk on the phone, so making prank calls was sort of the most criminal thing we could do. In my opinion it is up to the parents to educate their kids in the use of the Internet as they educate in use for everything else, like phones and TV, things that are shared between adults and children.
Many parents have opinions on what television is suitable for kids and so do I. Many just allow their kids to sit in front of the TV watching TV unmonitored. Even I do that, I let Villads watch Cartoon Network and Disney and the children's shows on local channels. But I am very much aware of what he is watching so I can change the channel when the news come on so he is not exposed to content only suitable for adults when I am cooking dinner in the kitchen. I am all for that kids should be exposed to the adult world, but only gradually, since I am the one who has to explain the concepts of: death, war, disasters, sex, betrayal, lying, politics aso.
The Internet is not television, it is far more extensive due to the two-communication aspect, so this media should be addressed in the same way as others: such as cellphones where a lot of kids are regarding these channels of communication as toys. I tend to let Villads use one-way communication media, once in a while he talks to family on the phone or skype and I know it will not be many years before we have to address this two-way communication, the other day he answered my wife's cellphone when I called while she was in the kitchen doing the laundry.
Anyway we should educate in responsible use and we ourselves should be responsible users.
I feel my correspondence with Sarah was sort of in a grey zone, it was awkward and weird and somehow out of line, but I was contacted so I just wanted clarification and to be on my way. I communicate with many people daily so it was hard for me to shake the habit of corresponding - so with the risk of being regarded as one of the adults who cannot handle the fact that kids are also using the Internet, I hope I did the right thing.
Anyway it is probably just some dog pulling my leg.