A little girl, only five years old who has a rare, genetic and ultimately fatal disease has become the target of cyberbullies. (Watch Video) What has happened to civilized behavior in this country? Where are the parents of these cyberbullies? Are they paying any attention to what their kids are doing and how they’re behaving online? The first responsibility to prevent cyberbullying lies with parents, not schools, not Facebook, not the government - Parents!
Facebook can’t do it. They have no recourse because this little girl has a fan page and therefore is considered a public figure. She is open to public criticism because of free speech. But parents have recourse. For most parents free speech offline does not include kids using profanity, being gratuitously mean or spouting vitriolic comments. Most parents teach their kids manners offline and to follow a code of conduct which includes treating people with courtesy and respect. Kids need to take the same code of conduct they learn offline to the online world. And parents need to make sure they are following a code of conduct.
So where are the parents of these kids? Why aren’t they monitoring what their kids are doing online?
Maybe they are the “not my child” parents. Or maybe they “trust” their kids do behave appropriately online. A recent study revealed a huge disconnect between what parents think their kids are doing online and what they’re actually doing online. An amazing two out of three parents are clueless about what their kids are doing online. Why? Because 70 percent of kids are actively hiding what they do online from their parents. Many parents feel overwhelmed because of new technology. In today’s internet world, that’s not an excuse.
Parents need to step up to the plate and become aware. They need to learn about the technology, social networking and the risks and consequences when kids go online.
They need to know what their kids are doing and how they’re behaving. They need to know that one in four kids is cyberbullied and one in five is the cyberbully. The bottom line is they need to get their heads out of the sand and start being parents online. This little, sweet girl should not have to suffer because of the ineptitude of parents, who are abdicating their responsibility. These hateful, cruel remarks online can be prevented and cyberbullying can be stopped.
October is Cyberbullying Prevention Month, so let’s get started!
Please join me for a webinar on October 10th at 2p.m. at http://cybercitizen.org/conference.