My son had a party when he turned 16 a couple of years ago – well he called it a gathering which I thought was really lovely and kind of old fashioned. About 15 of his friends came round, chatted , played on the Wii and had a laugh and we kept out of the way as it would have been a bit naff to be the “Mother Hen” and a trifle embarrassing for him if I kept asking them if they’d had enough to eat !

But I read the other day that Georgie Hobday’s, a big fan of the MTV series “My Super Sweet 16” party down in Brighton got completely out of hand due to the Facebook Republican Army a group who scour the social networking Facebook site looking for teenage parties to crash.

Georgie’s parents, Michael a University professor and his wife Sylvia an advertising executive, went out leaving the house free of booze and 4 adults in charge to return a few hours later to carnage.

There was a mud throughout the house, the garden had been ruined, there was vodka and beer everywhere, cigarette butts and burn marks all round the house and plants mirrors and lots of light bulbs had been taken out of their sockets and smashed.

Apparently texting on Bluetooth and Facebook alerted all sorts of strangers that there was a “hot party” close by and they turned up in their droves to cause havoc.

I remember having fabulous parties and get togethers when I was 16 because it’s the time being part of a group and having fun so the reason why I’m writing this blog is to make you aware as parents that times have changed – that parties can so easily get out of hand not due to your own child’s fault necessarily but due to the way they invite their friends to their “do”

So it’s worth talking to your kids about who they are going to invite, how many you feel comfortable with, what is and isn’t acceptable to you in terms of things like booze, cigarettes and food and how they are going to tell their friends – bearing in mind their friends might innocently advertise it by texting another or just may mention it casually on Facebook by mistake.

Here’s what the Daily Mail had to say:

The online predators coming to a party near you

“Georgina Hobday is not the first teenager to have her party ruined by the Facebook Republican Army. The gang claim to have gatecrashed dozens of events across the country after seeing them advertised by youngsters on websites such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo.

The group is made up of about 40 youths from the tough Whitehawk estate in Brighton. They even have their own coach and driver to ferry them around. Last night, plumber Steve O’Brien, 25, admitted that he and his brother Shaun, 24, were among the ringleaders.

He said: ‘We started off just going to parties that were local, but now we go all over the country. We all chipped in and bought a coach and we pay a bloke £500 to be our designated driver for the weekend so we can all get off our heads.

‘We’ve also got mates in London, Devon and other parts of the country who tip us off about parties in their area.
‘Sometimes people just invite us in and we have a good time. We don’t intend to cause trouble, but it kicks off sometimes. If we’ve travelled 200 miles for a party we’re not going to just walk away.”

So it’s all about our new awareness and making our kids aware of this trend.

Safety Tips For The Social Teen

The following seven tips for teens are brought to you by ConnectSafely.org. I recommend sending your child these safety tips via e-mail and then following up with a conversation!

You may even want to print it out to stick to your fridge!!

  • Be your own person. Don’t let friends or strangers pressure you to be someone you aren’t. And know your limits. You may be Net-savvy, but people and relationships change, and unexpected stuff can happen on the Internet.
  • Be nice online. Or at least treat people the way you’d want to be treated. People who are nasty and aggressive online are at greater risk of being bullied or harassed themselves. It’s a vicious cycle you really don’t want to get into.
  • Think about what you post. Sharing provocative photos or intimate details online, even in private emails, can cause you problems later on. Even people you consider friends can use this info against you, especially if they become ex-friends.
  • Read between the “lines.” It may be fun to check out new people for friendship or romance, but be aware that, while some people are nice, others act nice because they’re trying to get something. Flattering or supportive messages may be more about manipulation than friendship or romance.
  • Don’t talk about sex with strangers. Be cautious when communicating with people you don’t know in person, especially if the conversation starts to be about sex or physical details. Don’t lead them on – you don’t want to be the target of a predator’s grooming. If they persist, call your local police or contact CyberTipline.com.
  • Avoid in-person meetings. The only way someone can physically harm you is if you’re both in the same location, so – to be 100% safe – don’t meet them in person. If you really have to get together with someone you “met” online, don’t go alone. Have the meeting in a public place, tell a parent or some other solid backup, and bring some friends along.
  • Be smart when using a cell phone. All the same tips apply with phones as with computers. Except phones are with you wherever you are, often away from home and your usual support systems. Be careful who you give your number to and how you use GPS and other technologies that can pinpoint your physical location.

It’s not so easy growing up in our technological world and all our kids want is the same as us really – to have fun, be safe and hang out together and at 16 it is  difficult as they can’t go to Clubs but it’s not OK to invade other people’s parties, waste police time and trash other people’s belongings is it?