This week will go down as a sorrowful week for many families in Florida. As you probably have already heard, on February 14, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida tragically experienced a massive school shooting, where a gunman killed 17 people and injured many others. Without getting into politics or the blame game, one has to take a step back and consider the why behind the what.
Why did this happen?
What could cause someone to do this?
Could this have been prevented?
While these are tough questions to wrestle with, there is one question, in particular, that we should ask: were there any signs?
Were There Any Signs?
This we know for sure; the gunman, had red flags on his social media accounts, specifically Instagram. After posting several pics of himself with a gun and knife, those things should raise a red flag to anyone and should be reported to someone (Find out more info here). Take a look at what the Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi said regarding this gunman,
“When they’re posting on social media, they have followers… So kids who are out there, parents, you’ve got to monitor this stuff and if you see it, take everything seriously. Take every threat seriously. And report it to law-enforcement.… These teens now are vocal on social media. They don’t just pop up from anywhere, there are warning signs. And if you see warning signs with your child, if you know some of your kid’s friends… You need to report it… You need to let people know that something isn’t right.” – Pan Bondi, Florida Attorney General
After understanding his story thus far, it truly is difficult to “blame” on anyone or anything but the shooter himself.
This is a good reminder for all parents of tweens and teens: your kid either has or will have one or more social media accounts and it is vital that you are intentional in being involved with them in this particular area of their life.
Will your kid be involved in a similar tragedy? We pray not! However, when you choose to meet them where they are (social media), you will better understand who they are, who their friends are, what they are posting, what are their likes and dislikes, any suspicious activity, etc.
What Can We Do?
So in light of this tragic event, what are some steps you can take in being more intentionally involved with your kid’s social media world?
- First thing is this: start the conversation. Ask your kid what accounts they have, talk with them about wise and unwise posting, ask them if they see any red flags in what their friends are posting, etc.
- Second, follow your kid’s accounts. When you choose to follow your kids on whatever social media accounts they have, you have a better sense of what they are posting, who they are following, and honestly…they are more cautious to post unwise things knowing you are “watching” them.
- And lastly, set some social media agreements. For example, how many social networks can they have? How are you specifically going to be involved with them in this part of their life? No tech zones in the house? Time limits on their phone? Random phone checks? We know this will take some work (intentionality), but it’s worth it. Your kid is worth it! And to help you out, we have a Social Media Agreement Contract you can use here.
Our hearts grieve this week for the families who lost loved ones and who were dealing with the aftermath of this horrific event. Honestly, who knows what could’ve happened if more adults were aware and took action of the gunman’s disturbing posts on social media. Maybe nothing, but maybe something. The truth is, the more involved you are in your kid’s social media life, the smarter and safer they will be.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, students, and teachers who are affected by this tragedy.