Yesterday, I featured a review of Gena/Finn, a books about two girls who become friends online. Today I’m excited to be part of a blog tour for the book. I’ll let the authors tell you more about the story, as well as their tips to help you stay safe when meeting people online. I have one copy of Gena/Finn to give away to a reader in the U.S. Just leave a comment (before midnight PDT, Monday, June 13) saying whether you’ve ever met a friend online. Find out more about the authors at their websites: Hannahmoskowitz.com and Kathelgeson.com.
Gena/Finn tells the story of two girls who meet online writing fanfiction about their favorite TV show and come to develop a close friendship. We live in a time and a culture that enables people from all over the world to communicate and form bonds – but it’s important to do that safely. Here are a few tips Gena and Finn use in the book to make sure they’re being safe online.
- Verify who you’re talking to. There are so many ways to do this with all the technology we have available. Look for the other person on social media and you’ll probably get a pretty good picture of the landscape of their life. Ask for pictures – Gena and Finn exchange photos of themselves holding signs with each other’s names and pictures they’ve drawn and posted online, to prove they’re real. Video chatting is also a great idea.
Talk to people who are (roughly) your own age. Finn’s rule for this is that if someone is too young or too old for her to date, they’re not a good age for an online friendship. Gena’s probably a little less rigid about that. It is, however, a good idea to make sure that you’re talking to people over 18 if you’re over 18 and under 18 if you’re under 18. And in general, communicating with young kids online is not a good idea.
- Look for people with common interests. Gena and Finn meet in a fandom forum, where people come to talk about the TV show Up Below, write fanfiction, and create art. Finn’s boyfriend Charlie has friends he’s met through online gaming. You might also get to know people through Facebook interest groups, online dating sites, or blogging communities. In any of these cases, if someone seems to be hanging around for reasons other than the intended purpose of the online space, be wary.
- If you’ve been talking to someone online and you decide to meet face to face, do so in public. Gena and Finn come face to face at a convention with hundreds of other people around, and while they quickly become comfortable enough to retreat to Finn’s hotel room to watch TV, it’s very important to have that first meeting in a neutral space with people around.
Meeting people and making friends via the internet is easier and safer than it’s ever been, provided you take steps to protect yourself. Join a community today, and you won’t believe the diversity of the people you’ll end up talking to. Have fun and be safe!