Oh Facebook. The leading time-suck for teenagers everywhere. Parents love to complain about digital media, and the downside of having such a popular brand means the word "Facebook" has come to represent a host of web-based ills for kids. But what if you knew your kid could use Facebook to save your life one day?
Not kidding. A crafty teenager from St. Paul, Minnesota proved all those Facebook haters wrong this week when he used the social networking site to alert friends that his family was in danger.
Reggie LeAndrew Hart allegedly snatched girlfriend Kelly Heinl's cell phone and that of her 15-year-old son before he started beating her up. But the 15-year-old knew a phone call wasn't the only way to summon help. He asked Hart for the phone back "to charge it for school the next day." He couldn't risk making a voice-to-voice call to 911 operators, so he opted for a silent shout-out to his friends on Facebook, begging someone to call for help.
A friend who read the post did just that, and Hart now faces assault charges. But who knows what would have happened if the teen hadn't tried Facebook? If his mom had been one of those "OMG, you can't join that because the pedophiles will eat you" types -- aka, the moms who can't trust their teens to do anything!
Honestly, parents, for every kid wasting time on Facebook avoiding their homework, there's a kid putting up a call for their buddies to show up at a charity function. For every kid using Facebook to post status reports about where they're shopping, there's a kind of awkward geeky kid finally finding the guts to talk to the girl he likes because he doesn't have to do it face to face. For every kid harassing their siblings on Facebook, there's a kid who is networking their way into a new job (how do you think I found my mother's helper?) or a kid getting a round of supportive comments that make her feel better about her new haircut.
We hear a lot about the dangers of Facebook, and they're there. But saying it's a waste of time for kids to get on Facebook because of the bad side is like saying no kid should get a driver's license because teenagers get in car accidents. Let's weigh things out here Mom and Dad! It could save your life!
Are your kids allowed on Facebook?
Image via MarkHillary/Flickr