According to the Pew Research Center, 87% of all parents with teenagers use the Internet. As more children of Millennials and late baby boomers reach their teenage years, we believe parents will have to turn to social media to help search for a missing child.
Current websites in the missing person’s community help parents make flyers and give pointers for working with traditional media. But they don’t help parents take advantage of social media tools to actively engage friends and acquaintances in the search for a missing child. A well-executed social media campaign can generate the “buzz” that makes the traditional media take notice. Links to content from traditional media sources can be posted on social media sites, exponentially spreading the word about a child’s disappearance and creating a broader community of searches.
The Social Media for Parents for Missing and Runaway Children starts us on the path of using social media to find missing children.
The second phase of the nonprofit rollout will be to develop a website with step-by-step videos on how to use the toolkit. The website will be user friendly, guiding parents through demonstration rather than extensive text. We recognize that parents under stress, especially newcomers to social media, will need extensive assistance getting started with creating their social media profiles. Moreover, the crisis and stress of a missing child will cause many parents to struggle in the navigation of the social media toolkit no matter how accessible. Accordingly, our website will be designed with these parents in mind and in a way that promotes knowledge and hope rather than frustration and despair.
Once the website is created, FYMC will create a web-based application along the lines of the social media toolkit. A web application that can prompt parents to enter their information once and make it easily replicated is likely to save the parents some stress. Beyond easing some of the burden of setting up social media profiles, a web-based application would also benefit parents by:
- Providing prompts to remind parents to update content on social media profiles to continually drive traffic.
- Capturing the parents’ basic data from the social media toolkit electronically.
- Allowing FYMC to update the application and the social media toolkit to continually determine the toolkit’s effectiveness.