To those around him, Jaylen Ray Fryberg seemed like a normal high school freshman. He was well liked and happy, played on the football team and had recently been crowned Homecoming Prince. Around family, friends and classmates, Fryberg gave off the impression that he was a typical, upbeat teen.
That’s why those who knew him were shocked to learn that Fryberg entered his high school cafeteria and opened fire on his classmates, killing one before taking his own life. That was not the Fryberg they knew.
But only after the tragic events of his death was another side of Fryberg revealed — through his Twitter account. The happy, friendly disposition that Fryberg gave off during in-person contact was starkly different than the way he appeared on Twitter. In the weeks leading up to the shooting, Fryberg’s Twitter feed was filled with disturbing updates where he openly expressed anger, sadness and aggression.
While his page was filled with updates that clearly indicated the teenager was going through something really troubling, no one realized this until it was too late. Fryberg’s tragedy reminds us just how important it is for parents to connect with their children in their social media worlds in order to see all sides and spot problems early on.
Looks for Signs of Distress that May Not Be Visible In Real Life
Friends said the Fryberg they saw in person and the Fryberg they saw on Twitter seemed like two different people. On the day of his ominous final tweet, (“it won’t last…. It’ll never last….”), one of his classmates said that Frybeg was “all fine” at football practice that day.
As parents, we need to realize that how our kids act in front of us may not tell their full story. We need to keep our eyes open to underlying issues and use social media as a window into what our kids are really thinking and feeling.
Remember That Your Kids May Have More Than One Account on the Same Platform
It’s easy to set up multiple usernames on the same social media platform. So be mindful of this when reviewing your child’s account. If you notice that they are not active on the account you know about, ask them if they are using another. Pay attention to their friends and notice if they are tagging or communicating with your child at another username.
Check the Direct Messages To and From Your Child
Not all social media is public. Remember to check private messages that your child is sending and receiving. Look for communication that could be hurtful to both parties. Stopping your child from sending hurtful messages to other children is also part of your job in protecting your child from dangerous situations.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late — Connect to Your Child’s Social Media Life Now
As a parent, you should connect to all of your child’s social media accounts and regularly monitor how they are using those sites. You can use a platform like MamaBear Family Safety App which to receive notifications when they get new followers and friends, easily view photos uploaded and set alerts for certain language and phrases.
It is our job as parents to know what is going on in our children’s lives offline and online. So don’t look the other way when it comes to social media and connect with your child now using a social media monitoring platform like MamaBear App which is available for both iPhones and Androids.