I should probably start this by explaining that my 7 year old has a DS. She begged for it for her birthday and we got a red one for her. Six months later I’m happy to know that for her, it was/is more of a status symbol than an obsession. She wanted one because everyone else has one but she has about 10 minutes of interest in it and then throws it down to run off and play. This makes me happy.
I should also mention that I tend to be pretty free range with my kid. She plays up and down our street with supervision. She walks to and from the bus stop by herself. She goes to the restroom by herself at restaurants. She is allowed out of our site in public. I usually have to dial back her freedom when we are with other kids because their moms are not as comfortable as I am with letting their kids roam.
All that being said … here is what happened on Sunday that sort of freaked me out…
When we were in Titusville in that big old crowd of folks (and at a time when she was thankfully off somewhere with her father) there came a woman walking by with a 7-ish little girl. The girl had a pink DS open and tapping. And I guess because my three year old was still with me and I was clearly a mommy-type and we were camped out under the main flag pole, the little girl stopped and asked me, “Have you seen a little girl with a pink DS sitting under a flag pole?”
She got my immediate attention because anytime I hear the words “Have you seen a little girl …” in a crowd I immediately go into “OMG there’s a lost child” mode. Then I processed the last half of the sentence. Then looked up immediately to my left and then back down at her because WE were under the flag pole, and she was a little girl with a pink DS. I was confused. I said “I see you”
Then her mother clarified.. “No, she’s looking for a different little girl who says she is under a flag pole and has a pink DS”
Me – What do you mean?
Her – They chatted and she wants to find her
Me – They can communicate on those things?
Her – Yeah, within a short range they can find people and IM with them
Me – WHAAAA?
They left me standing there all slack jawed and moved on in search of the little girl with the pink DS sitting under a flag pole.
And I was all OMG OMG OMG
When I say my daughter plays with her DS and gets quickly bored and moves on, I’m not joking. She is more of a can-I-go-outside-and-ride-my-bike kind of gal. As a result her skill level with the darn thing is minimal and her knowledge (and previously mine) of what it’s capable of is thankfully limited.
Am I the only one that sees a problem with some perv sitting in a crowd of people electronically trolling for little girls with pink DSes? Seriously!
Would you, Do you, let your kids pick up messages from strangers? In crowds?
I came home and googled it and evidently the feature is called Pictochat and YOU CAN’T TURN IT OFF!! I looked it up on several DS forums and it seems to be a big concern from parents, especially those in urban areas where they are always in crowds, that there are no parental controls built into the Pictochat feature.
It claims it only works within 20 feet but most users seem to say it’s more like 100 feet. We were no where near where that woman had been sitting and whoever was luring the child over said they were under the flag pole so who knows where they really were. And even then the fact that it requires proximity seems almost worse to me. The perv knows they’re close… Just meet me behind that bush over there. Yeah that one…
So how do you guys handle this? Is there a No Pictochatting in Public rule? How do you police who they are dealing with if they use it in public?