A few weeks ago, I was shocked to read about this boy who deliberately hacked his friend’s Facebook account and changed his profile to ‘gay’ and his religion to ‘homosexuality! The same old story of a love triangle was the cause for this action. This we can accept, used as we are to our daily dose of violence and death. Infact some even consider these as harmless pranks as no one gets hurt! But the shocking thing is that the boy was just 12, an age where boys are usually involved with games, cars, and latest videos
OK, so the two friends liked the same girl. Big deal! Happens quite often, but boys usually fight it out. Here they did not. The accused hid his feelings well and didn’t seek a direct confrontation. He preferred to use words as his weapons and Facebook as his battlefield. Infact the victim wasn’t aware of the malicious intents of his friend till he became the butt of jokes among his peer group for being a ‘gay’.
I am not here to judge the boy or his action. Rather, I want to make this sad event a learning point for all parents, to make them aware that the net is dangerous, and leaving children to navigate this space alone is a more dangerous action. Though my heart goes out to the parents of the accused (I know these unsuspecting people must have been hit very hard), I have a few questions.
Did they install parental control feature on their computer?
Did they supervise their son when he went on the net?
Did they know that their 12-year old holds a Facebook account (Its legal to join FB at 13)?
Were they friends with him on Facebook?
And most important, had they taught him Facebook etiquette before allowing him to use his account?
A 12-year old is not mature enough to think out the long-term consequences of his/her actions. They are a little bigger than kids are and have similar volatile reactions. They hate and love with passion. This boy must have been suffering silently and having no one to share his pains with; he did what kids do best in these situations-quarrel. But it didn’t stop at that. He used Facebook to malign his victim and morph his pic, on the sly.
It reminded me of a friend who had recounted how she had caught her 11-year old son fighting with a friend on her BlackBerry chat, using language so foul that she was shocked!
Parents, let this be a BIG LESSON for us all. Let us be aware that if our kids are on social networking sites or chat pages, they will replicate their real life actions there. There will be fights and disagreements, gossips and name-calling.
So it is of utmost importance that we supervise their activities online as we do in real life. We must limit Internet usage, and the number of SNS they can join. Finally, let’s take every opportunity to teach them about good and responsible behaviour on the net. After all, our aim is to keep our children safe on the net, isn’t it?
Stay safe in cyber space everyone!