Social media has become a part of life, writes Natalie Sweeney.

Connecting with people and event planning are now so often organised through sites like Facebook. It’s quick, easy and everyone checks it. Unfortunately, it has also been a method of spreading bad and worrying news such as cases of missing people. It seems like most days when I log onto Facebook there is a post being shared of a missing person. Are there more people going missing nowadays, or with the world’s obsession with the cyber world, is the disconnection from phones or the internet a worrying sign?

It’s always important to let people know where you are. Not to the point where you have to inform your parents of your every move. But it’s only polite to let the people you stay with know roughly when you’ll be home or if you won’t be home at all. It is understandable how people can get in a panic when someone doesn’t return home after saying they would.

I spoke to local mum Angela Stevenson who had the worrying experience of not being able to find her son. She used social media to spread the word around the local area. She says that “teenagers think their parents can overreact and sometimes don’t think to give a text home to stop us worrying. My son had gone to the Kelburn party but had not been seen since 9am that morning and wouldn’t answer his phone. Naturally, I began to worry and I put up a Facebook status around 7.30pm. Social media can be a bit of a blessing and a curse, sometimes it can seem excessive when the person being looked for is really just up at someone’s house. But if someone genuinely is in danger then help can be found a lot quicker than in the days with no social media which was not so long ago. Luckily my son was found about 10pm and was ok.”

As Angela points out it is hard to distinguish between those people who are genuinely in danger and those who may just not be paying attention to the time and not letting others know about their plans. I think, however, that it goes without saying that it’s better to be safe than sorry. Angela says that her post was “shared hundreds of times, even by people in Blackpool and Orkney”. Social media sites are powerful and could save someone’s life one day. However, I suppose everyone could do their bit to make sure that only the real cases are being broadcasted. All it would take is to let a friend or family member know if you won’t be returning home. Even though it’s nice to have your own freedom, a text takes only a few seconds to complete and will give your loved ones hours of relief.