Social networking has become a rage among teenagers. With its immense advantages of sharing information, increased communication and connecting with old friends, it offers an opportunity for teens to enlarge their horizons by connecting with likeminded individuals located across the globe. Also, several volunteer organizations are using these sites to build awareness about sensitive issues, making teens more compassionate and involving them in community service projects. Moreover, there are many online forums that are of great educational value and help you connect with others with similar interests.
While I am aware of the benefits of social networking sites and have a teen who is pretty active on Facebook, an incident which recently occurred in my son’s school left me disturbed. An RIP message appeared on one of his classmate’s Facebook wall. Unfortunately, the said classmate’s cousin, who was online at the same time, saw the message and got in touch with the boy’s family to enquire about what had happened. And that’s when all hell broke loose—fearing that their son had met with a fatal accident (he rides a two-wheeler to school), the parents converged on the school to find out about it. The boy, who was peacefully ‘sleeping with his eyes open’ in a boring math class, was absolutely bewildered to find his entire family descending on him, with his mother and sister almost in tears. While this provided the students, who found the entire episode hilarious, with a much appreciated break from dreary academics, the school authorities were not amused. An attempt to find out who had posted the message met with little success as the post had already been deleted. The school later questioned boys who were absent that day but met with stout and vehement denial; and unluckily, the cousin who saw the post and inadvertently caused the whole brouhaha was unable to recall the name of the person who had posted it. My son and his class are pretty sure that it was done by one of their classmates because of the fact that the post was deleted even as the family reached the school indicating that the culprit had been tipped off. Also, some students have reportedly created fake profiles under fictitious names and use it to play pranks; apparently, posting fake RIP messages on FB is a ‘trick’ that is played from time to time.
While one could argue that the parents overreacted and should have called the school to find out if their son was safe, I do not know if it is really fair to expect that kind of presence of mind and calm thinking in such a situation. The first instinct of any parent would be to rush out and find out if their child is safe.