Facebook, my old friend, its time for another lecture. How many time have I told you not to post things that mock, threaten, or humiliate. Last week there were two, yes two articles in the paper about posts that did just that. The first headline read: "Nevada girls arrested in teacher threat case." Facebook, really, you let 6 middle school kids invite their fellow students to take part in a "Attack a teacher day." I know they said they were only fooling around, but really, I'm guessing that the teachers that were mentioned didn't think it was funny.
And then what about the two students from the town cited in this article from my local paper:"Students held in alleged threats." Thank god an attentive parent found this conversation on his son's facebook wall. " let's commit a mass homicide and use gallons of gasoline and use thousands of syringes full of bear tranquilizers, and hey how about shooting some guns at children," these two high school students bantered. The kids through their lawyer said they were only kidding: "Can't you tell, where would they get bear tranquilizers?" I guess they aren't laughing now facebook, since they were arrested and slapped with a $10,000 bail and expulsion from school.
I know, kids will be kids, hahahaha, but seriously, between Columbine, Virginia Tech, and now this latest shooting in Tucson, how do you know when someone is "just kidding". Please, please, please facebook, can you tell parents to keep up with what their kids are posting on their wall. Truly, "kids know not what they do." They probably are kidding and fooling around, and just trying to out-outrageous their friends, and look hip and cool. But what they aren't getting is that other people read those posts and maybe don't know for sure if they are kidding. And maybe readers will notify someone just to make sure, which is really the right thing to do.
I know facebook is fun, I think its fun. I'm glad we have facebook, or where else would I be able to post this blog, but I am aware of the consequences. Unfortunately most teens are so swept up in their moment of "fun" that they don't take the time to answer these few simple questions. Maybe we can work together to help parents remind their kids to monitor their posts as they write them. Maybe put a big poster tacked to a wall with these four question. It could help.
Will this post hurt someone's feelings?
Will this post feel threatening to anyone?
Does this post give too much information about myself?
Is there anything in this post that another person could read and misinterpret?
Kids aren't by nature "meanies", but they feel the power of "the word". And it is fun to shock. The problem is teens don't have enough life experience to know that sometimes shock creates fear, and fear creates action. Please parents continue to educate not punish your teens about facebook and its power, the good, the bad and the ugly!