I can't think of a way to better title this question.
My question is a direct response to a recent news event. You can read the article online.
Here's the scenario:
A child with a condition socially impairs him, in this case a speech delay known as apraxia, was having a public birthday celebration. The parents, uncertain that anyone but close family would attend, created a Facebook event that went viral worldwide.
In response, more than 300 people, primarily strangers, attended the child's event, bringing hundreds of gifts, with more being shipped via online orders. Much of this is because of the action of the Reddit community.
Responses such as this from the Internet happen occasionally, ranging from raising money for medical bills, sending pizza to children's hospitals, and now making amazing birthday celebrations.
My questions are:
What are the implications of such a large turnout on the psychological and emotional health of children who receive such enormous gifts (if not quite so enormous as this)?
How do you properly guide their expectations about such events in the future, to help them realize, in a healthy manner, than such an occurrence is not likely to happen again?
If you have a child of your own, that may or may not have social development issues, who reads such articles, how do you help them realize that such events are not typical for every child and that shouldn't necessarily expect the same?
I'm hoping there is some base psychology/sociology information that deals with similar events, if not the same events. For instance, I've recently read (still searching for articles) about the negative effects of military parents' surprise public homecomings. Those are also situations that are atypical for children, have a huge immediate impact on the child's life, and may or may not involve a lot of community members.
Update: I've had time to think about the question more, so I'd like to provide the following:
I realize this is given as multiple questions, and am willing to break it down into separate questions if necessary, but I'm really asking one overarching question:
What are the short-term and long-term psychological, emotional, and social outcomes of such events on children in unusual spotlights and children that witness/learn about such unusual events?
My multiple questions are intended to be guidance towards answering the larger question, not as discrete questions requiring dedicated answers. Although, I suppose there is an implied follow-up question being:
If any of these outcomes are negative, how do you, as a parent, mitigate them?