Technology can bring us all together, but that's not always necessarily a good thing. A teenager filming himself on Instagram Live recently became the center of a tragedy, when a gun he was holding went off and killed him as friends watched his feed.
Malachi Hemphill, a 13-year-old from Georgia, was showing off a handgun to his followers on Instagram just moments after his mother says he had taken out the trash. With his friends monitoring the feed and his mother unaware of what was going on in his room, a loud bang was heard. His loved ones sprang into action immediately.
"We kicked in the door," said his mother, Shaniqua Stephens. "We found him just laying there in a pool of blood. My daughter screamed and said, 'Mom, turn his phone off!' As I proceeded to look at his phone he was on Instagram Live."
Stephens claims many of the children watching the stream flooded the area outside their house after they saw or became aware of what happened, estimating 40 or 50 children in the street following the incident. One of the people watching Hemphill stream his death reportedly told him to put a clip in the gun just moments before it went off and took his life. Local detectives are investigating what happened to Hemphill, and Stephens has reportedly been told he acquired the gun from a friend who had it passed on by another acquaintance.
Parents raising children in the digital age face a variety of difficulties, but even the most vigilant parents will find it hard to suppress a child's urge to show off for their peers. Stephens' hope in the wake of her son's death at such a young age is that parents will use it as an opportunity to keep a closer eye on what their children are doing on social media.
Children having access to guns is a huge issue in the United States, with often-deadly consequences. According to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 42% of parents with firearms keep at least one gun unlocked, and a quarter will have at least one loaded. On an average day, 48 children are shot in the U.S.
As the organization Safe Kids Worldwide points out, if you're going to have a gun in a home where a child lives, make sure to store the ammunition separately, and that the gun is locked up.