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Internet characters brainwashing children

By Heather Hourigan, Reporter, heather.hourigan@kmiz.com
Published On: Jun 04 2014 05:30:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 04 2014 07:12:42 PM CDT

A girl in Wisconsin is recovering after two of her 12-year-old friends tried stabbing her to death.

COLUMBIA, Mo. -

A girl in Wisconsin is recovering after two of her 12-year-old friends tried stabbing her to death. 

Their motive,"Slenderman," a horror character that can be found all over the internet.

On Wednesday, ABC 17 News explored online sensations and how they affect children.

Slenderman at it's core is the subject of a ghost story that has taken on many forms throughout the Internet.

He is the subject of horror stories, forums, YouTube videos, and games.

"Basically, he is a mythical character that's depicted as a faceless, expressionless with a mannequin- like head with a body wearing a suit and really long arms," said David Stover, a team leader at Slackers CD's and Games.

Slenderman is one of many horror characters that have taken on a life of their own because of the internet.

Marbel Hornet, the Sandman, and the Rake are a few others.

"It's kind of like an Internet version of telephone where people will just tell someone about it and then they will tell their friends and it can either get distorted or even more scary than the original source," said Stover.

So how do parents protect their children from getting involved in these sites?

"I don't think you can monitor it carefully enough," said Dr. Jacqueline Ellis a licensed psychologist.

Ellis told ABC 17 News it's always important to check your child's computer history, and keep them involved in activities where they won't have time to become obsessed with mythical realms.

"Their brains aren't fully developed like adult brains so their judgement and reasoning aren't good," said Ellis.

Ellis told ABC 17 News teenagers are the most vulnerable to these ideas and characters.

"All children are easily influenced particularly teenagers because they are trying to establish their identity," said Ellis.

Ellis told ABC 17 News in her 40 years of being a psychologist she has never seen a situation like the one in Wisconsin where children become that brainstormed by these characters.

She also said ghost stories can still be fun and safe for children to tell, as long as it does not become an everyday obsession.

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