Social media and the parent

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The message is disturbing and, unfortunately, in this day and age, all too common.


Hate filled. Threatening. Cruel.

“You disgust me. You disgust everyone. You’re pathetic.” These are just some of the things written in at anonymous social media post to a young Island teen, a teen with mental-health issues and past suicidal thoughts.

It’s a story that’s not unique but one that an Island mother felt had to be told.

Someone via the social media site had targeted her daughter who, two months earlier, had tried to end her life.

Apparently knowing this, an anonymous user told the teen she was hated and calling her names that, in the media story about the attack, were so harsh and profane they were blocked out.

The message goes on to tell the teen to “go cut yourself and die.”

It’s shocking. It’s mean. And it should serve as wake up call to parents.

We, as parents, often take for granted that our children are fully aware of the perils and pitfalls of social media. With social media so readily accessible — at one’s fingertips through cellphones, smartphones and various other devices — knowing exactly what our children are up is almost impossible.

How many parents know about all these social media sites frequented by our children? About the Ask.fms, the Snapchats and the countless others that have popped up in recent years?

Yes, most are aware of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, sites that, to most tech-savvy teens, are now passé.

It’s these sites we don’t know about, sites where children can be targeted just like that 14-year-old girl, parents and guardians should be worried about.

Just what are our children seeing? What are our children posting? Who are they talking to? What are they saying? And are they the bullied or the bully?

It’s much easier to write mean-spirited comments, hiding behind one’s computer or smartphone, when anonymous with, seemingly, no repercussions. One can’t see first-hand how words can hurt or what they sound like when they are spoken.

Unfortunately, once the send button is hit, those words in cyberspace forever, to be seen not only by the person they were intended to hurt but also by others, causing, at times, for the bullying to grow.

The words hurt. Cut one down. The torment can push often emotionally fragile youth over the edge.

Parents, it is our job to teach our children to beware, that what they’re posting can have consequences, to check what they are doing and to make sure they are safe.

It’s time that parents step up stop this 21st Century bullying.




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