A few recent news stories may have parents reconsidering the importance of monitoring their kids online, if they don’t already do so. Online chats and Facebook posts have provided recent evidence to crimes that teens then committed immediately following those online activities. And while not every post or status update foreshadows illegal activities or arrests, it’s crucial for parents to be as up-to-date as possible about their kids’ online and social networking activities.
The first noteworthy story took place in Jackson, Michigan when 18-year-old Cody Caldwell was charged for arson and conspiracy to commit arson after an old factory burned down. Immediately before the factory’s destruction, Caldwell had posted “Bye every body on facebook” on his wall. After the fire, Caldwell’s friends responded to the post with comments addressing the pending investigation.
The other, and far more tragic, story is in light of a crime that happened in March of last year when two British Columbia teens attacked, raped and killed 18-year-old Kimberly Proctor. However, just last week, sources including The Vancouver Sun received a series of texts and online chats revealing the involvement of 16-year-old Kruse Wellwood and 17-year-old Cameron Moffatt. In addition to discussing their plans in detail, Wellwood also told a different friend online that he was thinking about killing someone for “giggles.”
Of course, these are very extreme cases of teen behaviors, but the important takeaway is that teens will discuss anything – even potentially illegal activities – online. Parents should know who their kids are in contact with both on- and offline and know the different online outlets and social networks their kids are participating in. There is also a lot of adult content online that teens can easily access and be influenced by, so having some kind of filters or controls for that are important as well.
Have you ever been suspicious of what your teen or their friends were posting online?