HEARTBROKEN DAD'S INTERNET WARNING
by NEIL GREENLEES
The image or Georgina on the website
which her lather doesn't recognise
A HEARTBROKEN Annahilt man whose teenage
daughter committed suicide earlier this month is convinced
influences she came under while using a social networking
internet site contributed to the tragedy.
Ian McAllister's world tell apart along with
that of his wife Vanessa and their son Stuart (16) on Saturday
June 9 when 15 year old Wallace HS pupil Georgina, described in
sympathy cards as someone whose smile would 'brighten up a
room', took her own life in the garden of her home.
He now wants to ensure no other family has to
suffer the terrible grief they are experiencing as they seek an
answer to the question 'why?' and has urged parents to monitor
their teenagers' internet usage in the run up to the long summer
During the past three weeks, while struggling
to come to terms with the tragedy, Ian has taken a close look at
Georgina's pages on the popular BEBO web-site.
He has found some of what he has read
disturbing and feels even the photograph of the teenager
featured on the site has a 'dark quality' which does not reflect
the true nature of the daughter he knew and loved.
"Georgina was sporty, fun loving and
constantly smiling," Ian said. "Some of the sympathy cards sent
to us said her smile would brighten up a room.
"Her death has left everyone in limbo. A lot
of people knew her through the Girls Brigade and youth club. She
Georgina as her
family knew her
netball for Larkfield and for her
`I had no idea the computer sitting in
the kitchen could be so dangerous'
"A serious number of people knew Georgina -
we are talking about pensioners right through to her school
Ian now wonders if communicating with others
through BEBO was making Georgina try to be older than she
actually was or upsetting her in some other
way. He said she had recently had hair
extensions put in and had never been 'clamped down on' in any
way: "She even made a new circle of friends outside the friends
she already had at school," he added.
He also said he had discovered it was
possible to cut and paste quotations from other parts of the
internet on to the BEBO site. Many of these, he explained, were
'very positive', but he pointed out 15 year olds using social
networking sites were communicating with older people, many in
the 18 to 21 age group.
"People aged 18 to 21 do different things to
those aged 15," he continued.
"The danger seems to be that 15 year olds do
not realise it's normal to be engaging in activities for 15 year
olds - especially when they read about others their age doing
things they should not really be doing. They begin to think they
should be doing these things too, but they are not ready for
Since Georgina's death Ian has discovered
police have concerns about the use of networking websites by
He explained officers have found young people
using them to arrange to go to venues such as nightclubs,
despite being underage.
The high esteem in which Georgina was held
was borne out by the large number of people' who attended her
funeral on the afternoon of Wednesday June 13. Ian hopes by
heeding his warning on the possible dangers of the internet no
other parents will have to endure the ordeal of burying their
"I had no idea the computer sitting in the
kitchen could be so dangerous. I hope people will take an
interest in what their teenagers are doing on it," he said