Two Boston-area teen girls have been charged in juvenile court this week with child endangerment and assault with a deadly weapon for what they thought was a hilarious joke: putting a 7-month old baby (one of the girls’ little cousin) into the refrigerator and posting it on SnapChat for a laugh. (As you can see on the video, they removed her after just a few seconds, and she is unharmed.)
This, parents, is just another horrifying example of how social media is messing with kids’ heads. The teenage brain at this stage of development is impulsive and inclined to make poor decisions: the ability to broadcast these “pranks” or “challenges” is making these decisions all the more RASH and DANGEROUS.
The baby girl’s mother asked her niece and her friend to watch the child for just a few minutes so she could take a shower—haven’t all new moms just wanted a quick break to take an uninterrupted shower? One would think that leaving the child with your own teenage niece for a few minutes while you were IN THE HOUSE would be safe. But no.
The child’s mom said in an interview with Boston’s WCVB-5, “I was horrified. I was in shock. I’m traumatized from that. I don’t want anyone near my child anymore.” She also says she doesn’t believe the girls actually MEANT any harm,
“I know she wouldn’t hurt my daughter and that wasn’t her intentions. I think it was all foolishness, stupidity, but she added, “I will no longer be leaving my children with my niece or her friends again ever in my life.”
Here’s my question: would these two teen girls have even THOUGHT to put a BABY in a REFRIGERATOR if they hadn’t had the means to film and broadcast it on SnapChat? My answer is NO. The ability to post their shenanigans was undoubtedly the CATALYST for this incident. No smartphone, no SnapChat, no baby in the fridge.
The point of my even writing this article is this: social media is encouraging our kids, our young teens and tweens, to make even more impulsive and irresponsible decisions than they are already bound to due to their age and maturity level. We are GIVING them technology that they are NOT MATURE ENOUGH to handle whether it be with pranks, physically dangerous “challenges” (i.e. holding your breath til you pass out, the “boiling water challenge,” etc.), sexting, or being duped into talking to adults posing as kids. Our children cannot handle this technology and we hand it to them, often wrapped up in a bow for Christmas or their birthdays.
And one other thing to mention: apps that have “disappearing video” – maybe your kids think that’s “safe” because the video disappears and they won’t be caught, but obviously, this SnapChat video is on the news and is the reason police were alerted to the crime. The baby’s mom did not know what had happened until the police TOLD HER. Sooo clearly these videos DO NOT go away forever.
My 13-year-old son doesn’t have a smartphone or a device that he can have SnapChat or Instagram on, but I just had a talk with him about this ANYWAY, because who knows what might happen at a friends’ house who DOES have these things, when I’m not there and the peer pressure to film something “funny” is applied? He is a smart kid, but he is a kid. He is not yet capable of making super-wise decisions like an adult. So we had a talk. Never thought I’d have to TELL my kid not to physically endanger himself of anyone else just so he could post it on social media for a laugh, but I did.
“I think you are a really smart kid and I don’t really think you are going to do anything like this,” I said to him. “But I feel like in this day and age, as a responsible parents, I HAVE to make sure to tell you not to.”
Do me a favor and talk to your kids about not doing these dangerous stunts if they or their friends have social media. Today.