This week, our newspaper featured a story reporter Tayler Shaw worked on over several months. This story tells the heartbreaking story of a teenager who died after allegedly buying drugs laced with fentanyl through Snapchat.
Let’s get past the quick-reaction stuff right away. No, the 18-year-old should not have been online looking for opioids. No one is saying she should have. What this story delves into is the fact that she DID NOT deserve to die from it.
Now, a pilot national case is moving forward — a program has taken the heartbreaking stories of nine families and filed a lawsuit against Snapchat.
Snapchat is the perfect example of how sneaky social platforms can be. When posts expire and are deleted not long after you post — how can anyone not think this is not an invitation for the bad guys?
As a parent of a teenage girl and growing boys — I am constantly living in a reality that you never really gain control.
While they protest — my children are told they are not allowed on either Snapchat or TikTok. I am not excited about Facebook or Instagram, but I do feel a little more secure in my abilities to monitor my daughter's behavior and teach my 9-year-old son who is now dabbling in the two approved platforms in our house.
There are programs for parents out there such as Bark. This service helps a parent track a child’s behavior on their phones and tablets. Using it, I have been notified when my daughter is doing or saying questionable things.
When I interviewed the director of Bark earlier this year, I was told besides helping parents head off possible sexual predators, the services have also proven helpful in tipping off parents when their child is having suicidal thoughts.
But like most, Bark is not perfect. No service to police what your children are doing online is.
My daughter thinks I do not know but she does have or has had a Snapchat account. Our daughter has an editor/journalist for a mom and a cybersecurity expert for a dad. She had a bit of a disadvantage to other kids.
Humor aside — even with our skills, I know she skirts the rules. The temptation is too strong. When her friends are on TikTok and Snapchat – I can’t hold it against her that she wants to be.
But then I read the stories that are out there, including this week’s in-depth look from Tayler Shaw. Her story shows how easy it is to make shady deals on social media platforms. Her story shows just how little control our local authorities have.
After all, when a social platform has headquarters in New York or California — How can the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office do anything? I am a little concerned with how little they have attempted to do in this case, but I do understand the obstacles.
Our own Attorney General Phil Weiser has said things are getting out of control with crime taking place through legal social platforms.
The problem, however, is until money become a focal point and these companies are having to pay a lot in legal fees and settlements — they really have no reason to do better for our kids, adults, and society.
Thelma Grimes is the south metro editor for Colorado Community Media.