It is unusual for a teenage child to make a Will. The circumstances which I’m going to describe are unusual but not unique. There is an increasing awareness that social media, particularly Instagram and Facebook, can both be very good and bad. Teenage suicides have increased markedly in the UK. Some blame social media.
Under the extremely upsetting circumstances of a Facebook teenager and user committing suicide it’s important that the person in question has a Will provided he/she is 18 – the minimum age (UK and USA and probably most developed countries).
This is because Facebook has demonstrated its refusal to disclose to a deceased child’s parents the communications and contacts that a teenager made with other users when she was alive.
Parents need access to their child’s Facebook account in its entirety to help them through the days, weeks and months after their child’s death. It helps to find out what happened and the underlying reasons behind their child’s death.
In one particular case Facebook refused access to the account of a 14-year-old because Facebook claimed that they had created an ‘online memorial’. Facebook justified their reluctance by citing the desire to protect the privacy of the girl’s contacts. The parents sued and Facebook defended.
The case took place in Germany and Germany’s Federal Court of Justice found in the parent’s favour. They said that the Facebook information of a deceased child passes under that child’s Will and estate.
America – Access to Child’s FB Account
In America 46/50 states allow families to access the “digital assets” of someone who has died. However, it appears essential that the deceased child had made a Will in which they give consent to their social media accounts being opened. Without a Will it would seem that in the instance of a child committing suicide the parents cannot open up the Facebook account to find out what went on. This might prove very useful to the parents and to teenagers wherever they are. Lessons need to be learnt.
There is an awareness that social media can be damaging to the self-esteem of teenage children. Children can discuss matters such as suicide online secretly, which can progress discussions into action. Image platforms such as Instagram can be emotionally damaging because highly addictive imagery can mess up people who are vulnerable. I’m talking about how online users can enhance their appearance digitally which creates an unreal world of the appearance of, particularly, young women. This in turn can lead to mental health issues and peer pressure.
Connection With Cats?
What has this got to do with cats? Well it has indirectly. Facebook is a wonderful website for cat rescue organisations. Although there are instances of problems within cat rescue organisations and adoptions in general it’s a success. But Facebook also has a tendency to allow animal abuse images and sometimes they are of cats. Facebook, the website, has taken away a lot of traffic from cat websites. Facebook is very relevant in the cat world. This is the indirect connection between the pressures that social media places upon teenage children and the world of cats.