Helping Our Children Navigate Social Media
October has been designated as National Bullying Prevention month. It is the hope that as parents, leaders, and educators, that we can help bring an end to bullying through avenues that will speak not only to the victims of bullying;, but also to the perpetrators. Being bullied holds much pain, and often shame for its victims. Yet, there also needs to be solutions in place to help those who are committing the acts of bullying. Nearly ninety percent of bullies are either being bullied themselves, or have been bullied (most likely at home.)
Since its inception, social media has been a blessing for some, and a curse for many others; especially the victims of bullying. With the ease of social media, many tormentors have taken to social media sites; escalating their derogatory behavior and offenses against their victims. What used to be something that may have only occurred in school, or the playground has become a 24/7 nightmare for many young persons. Many have taken their own lives to escape the constant taunts of their tormentors.
Safe guarding our children from social media can help aid in the prevention of bullying, and hold those who are bullying, accountable for their actions. Many bullies fail to realize that social media sites leave a digital footprint that can live on for an undetermined amount of time. Their actions today can and will affect their lives. What they may deem as harmless fun, or what some parents condone as children just being children; can have devastating effects on their future.
We cannot possibly protect our children from the world or living life, and growing up. However, we can ensure that they receive every opportunity to thrive in a safe environment. We can take steps to help protect our children from the insidious actions of others, by helping them to navigate social media sites and the latest technology in a safe way, and how to recognize when something should be immediately bought to the parent's attention.
Parents and educators should stay abreast of every change that is taking place in technology and the way in which children are communicating; including the lingo that they are using. It is necessary to be aware of the many idioms that they use amongst themselves and their peers. Being knowledgeable, as well, about social media and the technology that has our children's attention will give the advantage of not being caught off guard, or unaware of what is happening in a young person's life, and how to properly address certain issues.
Monitoring our children's actions without being overly restrictive can make a huge difference when it comes to saving a child's life. Often times parents have no idea what is really going on in their child's social life. Most victims of bullying do not speak on what they are facing. They may feel embarrassed, ashamed, or even fearful of retaliation.
Social media sites allow many bullies to hide behind the screen and torment their victims and spread vicious lies about someone. Most sites require that you be eighteen to have an account. Others, the age requirement is thirteen. Yet, there are many parents that allow their children to have accounts, regardless of their age. Some children being as young as eight or nine.
There are many ways we can help to prevent bullying. Helping our children navigate social media is just one of them. If we can teach our children to be responsible, and to monitor their activities, we can possibly change or even save a life. Age, level of maturity, and education should be considered when it comes to allowing our children to engage in social media sites. We cannot always monitor what they are exposed to outside of the home, but we can definitely forearm them, and teach them how to be responsible, and feel comfortable to share and communicate about anything they may be facing. We must teach them to stand up for themselves and others. And if they see something inappropriate, harmful, or mean in nature; to bring it to the attention of you, their parent, or an educator.
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