Why Do Children Post Threats on Social Media?

I was an 80’s kid. Growing up, singing about hurting your teacher and school was “normal”. Sometimes your parents would even teach you the words. But also normal was drinking out of the hose, riding your bike with no helmet, and riding a see-saw. While things like gun crime are on the decline and have been for quite some time, I feel that society is much more violent now. They are definitely more sensitive, or at least some people are trying to make us that way.

What did kids sing in the 80’s?

To the tune of “On top of Spaghetti”:
On top of old Smokey, all covered in mud,
I shot my poor teacher with a 44 slug.
I went to her funeral, I spit on her grave,
Some people threw flowers, I threw a grenade.

To the tune of “Battle Hymn of the Republic”:
My eyes have seen the glory of the burning of the school,
We have tortured all the teachers, we have broken every rule,
We are heading down the hall to hang the principal
As we go marching on!

Why do kids post threats on social media?

In the 80’s, you sang a tune, and the sound waves traveled 10 feet or so. When you make a threat on social media, a whole lot more people can see it. Maybe this is actually the reason why teenagers do this. That, assumed anonymity, and impulse. Oh my gosh, even though I had more self control than most kids, the things I didn’t think through as a teen. An idea popped up in my head and I was acting on it two seconds later. If it was a good idea or not didn’t cross my mind until the next day, or even the next week.

Plus, what kid hasn’t done something because they thought they weren’t going to get caught? Most people see the Yik Yak slogan that says “Share your thoughts and keep your privacy” and they assume it is completely anonymous. Of course, any network connected device has an address which allows an Internet prover to know precisely who you are. Do something wrong and 5-0 will be at your door shortly.

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Parents need to educate their children better

Can we blame parents? It isn’t like today’s parents had 4G Internet in their pocket when they were kids. I work with brilliant doctors and attorneys who have never even heard of Instagram or logged into Facebook. Do parents know or care about Yik Yak? Do they know about Unseen? Do they know what their kids are doing on Snapchat? Do they know that if their 15yr old takes an inappropriate pic of themselves with their phone they can do 5 years in prison?

More importantly, does their 15 year old know this? Are they using Secret to make threats? What will they use Cloaq for? Are they sending pics of themselves out on Slingshot? Are they about to be the next kid that has a bad day at school and spontaneously posts something on Yik Yak resulting in arrest? It happens almost every day.

A lot of parents think that their kids could teach them about social media. While teens usually do understand the functionality of the platform and the acronyms better, at the end of the day parents are responsible for their kids actions up until a certain age. Giving them a phone “just because the other kids have one” is not an excuse.

You are responsible for anything you hand your child or even fail keep out of their reach. At the minimum, kids should at least be taught the law. I don’t think any of the kids in my Yik Yak arrest log had any idea that they would be arrested, and if they did know they were breaking the law they obviously thought that they were going to get away with it. Pro tip: nothing you do on the Internet is anonymous.

If kids understand basic laws in advance maybe they won’t act on impulse.

As a teen, on impulse, I jumped into people’s pools when they weren’t home. I rode my bike through lawns because I knew people didn’t like it. I knocked on people’s doors and ran away after. And, this may have all happened on a Saturday morning. 🙂 But, I also knew not to pass a school bus long before I got my driver’s license, and I knew what a DWI was before I turned 21.

Kids should know not to do stupid things on social media long before they are handed a phone, just like surgeons are well aware of what they’re doing before they’re handed a scalpel. All kids are all going to make mistakes, but if they understand the repercussions of their wrongdoings in advance it may make a huge difference.

Conclusion

Above is just my opinion. I am no psychiatrist, but I have observed people’s behavior on social media since day one, and I was also a kid once.


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[…] I was an 80’s kid. Growing up, singing about hurting your teacher and school was “normal”. Sometimes your parents would even teach you the words. But also normal was drinking out of the hose, riding your bike with no helmet, and riding a see-saw. While things like gun crime are on the decline and have been for quite some time, I feel that society is much more violent now. They are definitely more sensitive, or at least some people are trying to make us that way. What did kids sing in the 80’s? T  […]