What do you do if your son or daughter has posted an image or a comment online that you don’t think is OK?
Don’t Over React!
Today’s kids are exposed to a different world than we were as kids. Reality shows that bare and share all, celebrities that twerk and dance around scantily clad, suggestive lyrics and sexual imagery. Your child’s idea of what is OK may be very different from yours. Don’t assume that he or she innately knows what’s acceptable to post and what’s not. Your child may believe what they see on reality shows, online and in the media as normal behavior and even think that you’re the one that’s out of touch! It’s your job to teach them what’s acceptable behavior online and what’s not.
Get Your Child’s Version of Why?
Try to discover why your child chose to post the image or comment. If it was a sexting image, was the posting a product of peer pressure or a boyfriend? If it was a bullying comment posted, has your child been bullied and this cyberbullying post an act of revenge? Did your child cyberbully as a bystander, hoping to fit in to a particular peer group? Did your child cyberbully because he or she thought it was funny or entertaining? What you hope to gain from questions like these is to find out your child’s intentions so that you can get to the root of the problem and address the issue.
You might try asking them these questions.
- Do you think what you posted is OK?
- Is this something you really want everyone to see?
- Is this what you want people to know about you? Does this represent who you are?
- What do you think this photo communicates about you?
- Have you thought about what the parents of your friends, your grandparents, teachers, and coaches might think about it?
- Have you considered how a college recruiter or future employer might perceive you because of what you posted? Could it impact their decision about accepting you?
- How do you think the person felt when they saw your post? How did this post affect them? How would you feel if you received this kind of a post?
Talk to them about the consequences of their online actions.
- Talk to them about cyberbullying, what it means and the consequences, legally and emotionally. (Find out what the laws are in your state regarding cyberbullying.)
- Talk to them about sexting, what it is and the consequences, legally and emotionally. (Educate yourself about your state’s sexting laws and the consequences.)
Help your child understand the devastating impact of cyberbullying.
Kids often don’t fully understand the impact of their mean, hurtful comments online. They may forget that there is a real person on the other end of their post because they are behind a computer screen. As a result, they underestimate the emotional damage that can be done. As a parent you need to help your child understand the seriousness of cyberbullying. You may need to tell them about some of the tragic outcomes of cyberbullying that have occurred if they don’t fully comprehend that “words can hurt.” One of the most recent and highly publicized tragedy’s is the death of Rebecca Sedwick, a 12 year old who took her life in Florida in Sept. 2013.
Talk to them about your expectations of their behavior and your own family values.
Review the ScreenRetriever Code of Conduct and Rules with your child.
- Let your child know that if they can’t follow online safety rules and code of conduct online that they will lose their computer or cellphone privileges. With the privilege of using a computer or cellphone come basic responsibilities. They need to earn that privilege and trust that they will use these devices properly and appropriately.
- If you decide to remove their computer or cellphone privileges for a period of time because of inappropriate behavior – Stick with your decision. Let them know how long they will lose these privileges for and then try again. Be consistent in your approach.