In an article last week that leaves out a lot of details, nj.com tells the story of the principal at New Jersey’s South Brunswick High School reaching out to parents and asking them to help calm the outbreak of fights that occurred at the school last week, which resulted in the arrest of at least three students.
“Fighting is not tolerated at SBHS and we will continue to educate students in effective decision-making so their choices impact their futures positively. [Videotaping] has to stop; [it] is not permitted and is against school rules. … We have observed enough students doing this that I ask you to have a conversation with your children about these behaviors.”
The story details the fact that six fights broke out over three days but we have heard that it was more than six fights, and that they were prompted by an argument that started on Twitter.
As the tweets above indicate, the fights took center stage with the students, some of whom videotaped them and posted them to social media, in particular Snapchat (the “geofilter” mentioned above is a Snapchat reference). This is speculation on our part but we believe that while a couple of the fights may have been spurred by the Twitter spat, it is entirely likely that many occurred as a result of the fact that the filming of the fights were blowing up on social media, making the participants internet-famous, at least for a while.
In our opinion, an individual fight, while not being a good thing, is not the problem. Nor is social media in itself a problem. The problem is that teens are doing outrageous, dangerous thing in order to be more popular online.
From dares like the make-yourself-disappear 72 Hour Challenge and kids setting themselves on fire for YouTube to self esteem crushing popularity contests like “Rate Me” or “Hot or Not” contests, teens are risking their psyche and their safety to earn fantasy points online.
This isn’t new. Teens have been accepting dares for as long as anyone can remember. The difference is that the internet provides a megaphone such that kids believe that anyone can be the next Alex From Target. Of course parents should be talking to kids about making good decisions. When bad decisions are made in the pursuit of internet fame, the results can be devastating and the proof can be on display permanently.
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