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How Social Media Showed Us That Kids Are Truly Good
By: Christine Geraci
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We read and write so much about how social media is ruining our children. The harsh bullying, the suicides, the lack of appropriate social skills — many blame it all on the rampant use of technology to communicate. I've done my fair share of decrying the obsession with social networking and mobile devices myself.

But then, these moments arise where you're reminded of just how amazing digital social networking can be. There are many, many examples out there. But I'm going to discuss a very recent example that happens to hit close to home.

On December 2, four teenagers from the Capital Region of New York state, where I live, were on their way home from a basketball game. In an instant, they were rear-ended by a drunk driver. Two of the teenagers died. The other two were seriously injured. These were good kids — scholar athletes, loyal friends, bursting with potential, popular for all the right reasons — who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Almost immediately after word spread of the tragedy, Facebook pages were created in the students' memories.

The Shenendehowa Central School District Facebook page became a place not just to get information, but to openly grieve. Teens from school districts across the region suddenly realized that, for no discernable reason in particular, it could have been them. And parents across the region were reminded that it could have been their kids. 

Then came the #shenstrong and #RIPChrisandDeanna hashtags. I dare you to read through them without shedding a tear. 

The photo of a green and blue ribbon, representing Shenendehowa green and the blue of Shaker High School, where injured teen Bailey Wind attends, circulated on Facebook and Instagram. 

Within 48 hours, students started the Twitter hashtags #TebowCallMatt and #MissyCallBailey, asking New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow and Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin to call crash survivors Matt Hardy and Bailey Wind, respectively, in the hospital. The hashtags — #TebowCallMatt, in particular — trended nationally. And both delivered: Tebow had a conversation with Hardy, while Franklin left Wind a voicemail.

On the athletic field, Shen and Shaker are normally rivals. On Tuesday, Facebook was plastered with images of students wearing the colors of the opposite school to honor the teens who died, and show support for the two who survived. Other area schools posted pictures with encouraging messages of support for Shen and the injured students. Instagram is awash in photos of support — the same hashtags apply.

I'm convinced that an outpouring of this magnitude would not have been possible without the technology we often denounce for deteriorating our kids' brains. In this case, I applaud the technology for giving these kids the means of supporting one another and expressing their feelings. On a very grand scale, we now have undeniable proof that kids are good, and that communities will come together to support one another when it's needed.

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About the Author
Christine Geraci is the Social Media/Promotions Specialist at MVP Health Care in Schenectady, NY. Connect with her on Twitter @christinegeraci.
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