Her 7-year-old's drawing is a haunting reminder to parents to closely monitor kids online.

This mom's viral post reminds parents why we can't afford to become complacent with our kids' online activity.

I have three kids. They've all spend a decent portion of their childhoods on screens of various kinds. I've always tried to be diligent about parental controls and monitoring what they're doing and keeping open communication about online safety.

But I also know how easy it is to slip into complacency.


When enough time goes by without any issues, it can be tempting to assume everything is as it should be.

But unfortunately, that's not always the case.

Meridy Leeper recently shared a disturbing post on Facebook describing what her 7-year-old had experienced while playing online:

"This is an exceptionally hard thing for me to post," Leeper wrote. "I've thought long and hard about this. I've decided it's way too important not to bring awareness to other parents. This is not up for criticism. I only want to let all parents know what to watch for...."

She continued:

Kids youtube, roblox, fortnight... no matter how much you think you are monitoring your child.. notifications to what your child is watching. It doesn't matter. My 7 year old child was taught how to attempt suicide by kids youtube and these games. She has expressed that she doesn't feel neglected or unloved. Instead, she was constantly told to 'go kill yourself' by other gamers, by kids youtube. Shown HOW to.

Leeper shared a photo of a drawing her daughter had created at school of a person hanging with a noose around their neck. Yes. At age 7.

This is an exceptionally hard thing for me to post. I've thought long and hard about this. I've decided it's way too...

Posted by Meridy Leeper on Tuesday, February 12, 2019

"Sunday night, she had a full blown anxiety attack," Leeper wrote, "Which I held her and sang to her while she got through it. Monday, she drew this in school. This is a VERY real danger! I NEVER thought I would find myself helping my SEVEN YEAR OLD CHILD through an anxiety attack."

Leeper concluded with a warning to parents:

PLEASE, keep your children away from these things. I'm just so glad my child was able to express her feelings before she actually tried to harm herself. I never thought something as 'innocent' as kids youtube would have these subliminal messages. Again, I'm only sharing our experience in the hopes to prevent another child going through this.

Other parents have shared similar stories of being blindsided by disturbing content during seemingly innocent videos.

A parent who chose to remain anonymous shared a story on Pedimom about how a kids video she was watching with her child was suddenly interrupted by a brief lesson on how to cut yourself.

"It was a simple, innocent cartoon – until it happened," she wrote.

"Four minutes and forty-five seconds into the video, a man quickly walked onto the screen, held his arm out, and taught the children watching this video how to properly kill themselves. What did I just see? Did I really just see that? I immediately turned off the video. My son’s nose stopped bleeding, and I further investigated the video in private while he went to play.  I watched it again, certain that I had dreamt it up. I know YouTube had some sick videos, but I thought YouTube Kids was safe. They sure make it seem like it is.

But – no. There it was again. Four minutes and forty-five seconds into the video.  The man quickly walked in, held his arm out, and tracing his forearm, said, “Kids, remember, cut this way for attention, and this way for results,” and then quickly walked off.

Not much shocks me.  I’m a physician, I work in the emergency department. I’ve seen a lot. But this did.

Pedimom said that the video had been removed from YouTube. But these are not completely isolated incidents.

Parents should know what their kids might be exposed to, even on supposedly kids-safe channels.

Wired shared an article less than a year ago titled "Children's YouTube is still churning out blood, suicide and cannibalism," which details the ways in which violent, sexual, and otherwise not-kid-friendly content was slipping past filters on Kids YouTube. Most of these videos feature beloved characters from Disney or popular children's shows like "Paw Patrol," and unsuspecting kids end up seeing them tortured, maimed, killed, or put in sexual situations children should not be seeing.

The New York Times shared a similar article detailing videos in which kids' show characters go to strip clubs, urinate on one another, lie in pools of blood, and kill themselves. Unfortunately, kids may innocently trip into these videos without realizing it, as the descriptions often use words like "educational" and "learning" to make them seem like quality content.

YouTube generally uses detailed automated filters to screen videos, but weirdos can be sneaky and there are limits to algorithms. Clearly.

So word to the wise, parents. Be vigilant and don't leave kids alone with screens, even if you think they're on a channel that's made for kids.

Make sure your kids show you anything they see that seems "off," and immediately report any disturbing content you come across.

And maybe consider just giving your kids a box of LEGOs and some dress up clothes and calling it a day.

Put on a DVD if they want some entertainment. Most kids can wait a little longer for online access, especially if it keeps the creeps of the world from destroying their innocence.

Courtesy of Macy's

Brantley and his snowman

True

"Would you like to build a snowman?" If you asked five-year-old Brantley from Texas this question, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" While it may sound like a simple dream, since Texas doesn't usually see much snow, it seemed like a lofty one for him, even more so because Brantley has a congenital heart disease.

On Dec. 11, 2019, however, the real Macy's Santa and his two elves teamed up with Make-A-Wish to surprise Brantley and his family on his way to Colorado where there was plenty of snow for him to build his very own snowman, fulfilling his wish as part of the Macy's Believe campaign. After a joy-filled plane ride where every passenger got gift bags from Macy's, the family arrived in Breckenridge, Colorado where Santa and his elves helped Brantley build a snowman.

Brantley, Brantley's mom, and Santa marveling at their snowmanAll photos courtesy of Macy's

Brantley, who according to his mom had never actually seen snow, was blown away by the experience.

"Well, I had to build a snowman because snowmen are my favorite," Brantley said in an interview with Summit Daily. "All of it was my favorite part."

This is just one example of the more than 330,000 wishes the nonprofit Make-A-Wish have fulfilled to bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses since its founding 40 years ago. Even though many of the children that Make-A-Wish grants wishes for manage or overcome their illnesses, they often face months, if not years of doctor's visits, hospital stays and uncomfortable treatments. The nonprofit helps these children and their families replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

It's hardly an outlandish notion — research shows that a wish come true can help increase these children's resiliency and improve their quality of life. Brantley is a prime example.

"This couldn't have come at a better time because we see all the hardships that we went through last year," Brantley's mom Brandi told Summit Daily.

Brantley playing with snowballs

Now more than ever, kids with critical illnesses need hope. Since they're particularly vulnerable to disease, they and their families have had to isolate even more during the pandemic and avoid the people they love most and many of the activities that recharge them. That's why Make-A-Wish is doing everything it can to fulfill wishes in spite of the unprecedented obstacles.

That's where you come in. Macy's has raised over $132 million for Make-A-Wish, and helped grant more than 15,500 wishes since their partnership began in 2003, but they couldn't have done that without the support of everyday people. The crux of that support comes from Macy's Believe Campaign — the longstanding holiday fundraising effort where for every letter to Santa that's written online at Macys.com or dropped off safely at the red Believe mailbox at their stores, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. New this year, National Believe Day will be expanded to National Believe Week and will provide customers the opportunity to double their donations ($2 per letter, up to an additional $1 million) for a full week from Sunday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 5.

There are more ways to support Make-A-Wish besides letter-writing too. If you purchase a $4 Believe bracelet, $2 of each bracelet will be donated to Make-A-Wish through Dec. 31. And for families who are all about the holiday PJs, on Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), 20 percent of the purchase price of select family pajamas will benefit Make-A-Wish.

Elizabeth living out her wish of being a fashion designer

Additionally, this year's campaign features 6-year-old Elizabeth, a Make-A-Wish child diagnosed with leukemia, whose wish to design a dress recently came true. Thanks to the style experts at Macy's Fashion Office and I.N.C. International Concepts, only at Macy's, Elizabeth had the opportunity to design a colorful floral maxi dress. Elizabeth's exclusive design is now available online at Macys.com and in select Macy's stores. In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, 20 percent of the purchase price of Elizabeth's dress (through Dec. 31) will benefit Make-A-Wish.You can also donate directly to Make-A-Wish via Macy's website.

This holiday season may be a tough one this year, but you can bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses by delivering hope for their wishes to come true.

via 1POCNews / Twitter

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