Photo by indaRaymondPhotography/Getty Images
By: Ms. Natalie Blais
Imagine, if you will: It’s Monday morning and you’re heading into work. When you arrive to the door of your office, there’s a huge poster with a full color image of you bent over a toilet throwing up after your weekend exploits.
You walk into the office and everyone is on their smartphones, giggling and whispering. As you walk by, they look up and you and look at one another and burst in to laughter.
Imagine facing that every single day. Never living it down.
That’s exactly what you’re doing to your kid when you publicly shame him or her using social media to get your parenting point across.
What parents today are learning, quickly, is that social media can be an incredible tool for connection and communication. What some aren’t understanding, though, is how deep and how vast social media is.
Children of the age of social media are savvy. They know how to dig up information faster than you can turn on your phone. They know how to navigate all of the platforms and share that information with lightning speed.
They go right for the bull’s-eye and often have little to no remorse for their willingness to partake in publicly humiliating a peer.
When we, as parents, leverage social media to shame or discipline our kids, we are only adding fuel to the fire.
Here are 5 things to consider before shaming your kids online (or voicing support for those who do):
1. The Internet is FOREVER.
You may go back in and delete the photo or status update, but in the age of screenshots, anything and everything you say online can be captured and reposted thousands of times.
Kids know how to access cached pages and share those as well. STOP and think, if this was me would I want to see this coming across my best friend’s news feed or my boss’ email?
2. Kids don’t have the same filter as adults do.
We might stop to think before we repost and share things online. Kids usually don’t. They see something that is funny or salacious, and they’re immediately hitting the share button and passing it on.
If you’ve watched any newscast in the past year, you’ve probably seen a story or two on kids sharing racy photos that are labeled child pornography.
Kids don’t stop and think that a photo of a peer in a very questionable situation is inappropriate to share. They simply act on impulse and share what they believe to be funny.
Pause before you hit post and consider that your friends are not the only ones seeing what you post online. Friends of friends of friends can see it too.
3. People aren’t always who they say they are online.
You may think that posting a cute photo of your kid in the tub surrounded by floating poop is funny. Sure it’s cute to post those “my kid is naked outside again” photos and giggle at the little butt dimples.
Do you know who else likes pictures of half naked kids? Pedophiles.
They search Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr and Google Image searches to find photos like that for their personal enjoyment. Sure, just about every kid poops in the tub at some point, using social media to post that and call your kid out is a decision you may regret with very deep dark implications.
4. Kids deserve dignity too.
Yes, we’re angry our kid was caught stealing gum at the grocery store. Yes, we don’t think that a grounding or losing computer time is adequate punishment for such an incredibly stupid decision.
We need to find ways to get our point across without destroying our kid’s at the same time.
We all make stupid decisions and do dumb things. Parents still text and drive. Adults still ring in the wrong code at the grocery store to get a cheaper price on bulk foods. The thing about being a adult is that our exploits are not splashed all over Facebook 15 minutes after it happens.
And while your kid did something you’ll be mad about for days, that doesn’t mean he or she deserves to be raked over the coals publicly to satisfy your need to drive your point home.
5. It’s mean spirited.
We aren’t using public shaming to help our kids become better people. We are using it to call them out and embarass them.
If people took to social media to call you out every time you did something they didn’t like, you would never leave your house again. In the age of “video EVERYTHING you see, regardless of the situation” we all make snap decisions that aren’t always the best decisions.
Try putting yourself in your kid’s shoes, pause before you post.
Sometimes we forget that our kids just aren’t as resilient as we are and things don’t blow over as easily with their peer group. What we feel to be “all in good fun” can potentially stick with your kid for a very very long time.
Head on over to www.APassionateParent.com to find some great tips and ideas on how to raise happy, healthy, peaceful kids. When you feel like you’re going to tip over the cliff of sanity, there is always a way back.
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