Social Media Prank Leads to Suicide of 11 Year Old

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By: Brooke Girton

Tysen Benz attempted to hang himself approximately a month ago after being convinced through social media that his girlfriend had committed suicide. The prank was performed by his 13-year-old girlfriend and her friends. After seeing this faked evidence of his girlfriend’s suicide, Tysen claimed he would also kill himself, but none of the kids who were in on it went to an adult or admitted that it was a prank. Tysen survived on life support for three weeks but unfortunately passed away Tuesday, April 4th.

His mother, Katrina Goss, is devastated by her loss. She does not understand why this sick joke caused her to lose her son. She wants justice for her son and charges are being filed against the girl responsible. She also warns other parents to monitor their children’s online activity before it is too late.

Social Media for Parents

Parents are constantly facing new challenges as social media continues to evolve. It is not easy to monitor a child’s activity every minute of the day. Children will find ways to get around being monitored. In Tysen’s case, he bought a phone from a friend without his mother’s knowledge. Facebook also has an age limit of 13 years old so Tysen should not have had an account for another two years. Now it has become standard for young children to be online and have accounts.

So how can parents keep their children safe? While keeping their children off of social media until they are old enough to critically process information would be ideal, it is clearly not enough. Parents need to educate their children on the internet. They need to inform them of why it is not the place for them. Find a way to explain that many things on the internet are not true and telling the difference can be difficult, even for adults.

References

The Associated Press. (2017, April 07). Michigan Boy, 11, Hangs Himself After Social Media Prank. Retrieved from http://www.journalnow.com/ap/national/michigan-boy-hangs-himself-after-social-media-prank/article_eef8aa79-a148-5370-b030-3efed5b4f2c2.html

Ali, S. S. (2017, April 07). Boy Killed Himself in Response to a Social Media Prank, Mother Says. Retrieved from http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/michigan-boy-kills-himself-response-social-media-prank-mother-says-n743941

 

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UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism