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The students of Lone Hill Middle School are having to face the cruel, unsettling and for most, unexpected side of social media. Their classmate, an unidentified girl, received startling and horrific death threats via Instagram. While police and school officials are doing everything possible to find the person behind these anonymous threats, parents are left wondering how they can protect their own children from the ugly aspects of social media.
How Many Tweens/Teens Use Social Media?
An article on Edudemic gives these startling stats:
- 95% of teens ages 12-19 use the Internet
- 81% have social media accounts, 50% of those have public profile information that can be seen by anyone on the Internet
- 50% login to their social media accounts more than once per day, many 10 times a day or more
- 21% of kids under 13 use social media sites
- 23% of tween girls reported that Instagram was their favorite app
As a Parent, Here is What You Should Know
Ignorance of technology and social media is no longer an option for parents. According to Nicole Nishada, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, “When the conflicts expand to social media, parents are often unaware of the communication occurring silently on cell phones and computers.”
The sheriff’s office involved in this incident has been very clear that the authorities take this type of threat very seriously and there will be consequences when the person behind the threats is caught. Cyberbullying affects both the victim, who will carry emotional scars, and the bully, who if caught, can face severe legal action, or financial consequences.
With serious consequences associated on both sides of the cyberbullying epidemic, it is critical for parents to take an active role and speak with their children about this topic. Children should know that there are options when they are the victim of cyberbullying and they should also know the negative consequences of being a cyberbully.
As parents, we sometimes go by the old adage “no news is good news,” but our children, who may be afraid to speak up or who think they can handle the situation on their own, are struggling silently.
What Can You Do To Help Your Children
A lot. Social media is a privilege, not a necessity and parents have every right to closely monitor their child’s Internet usage, including social media accounts. Children have grown up with technology, are tech savvy and may know how to keep their parents from seeing their online activity. Insist on having the passwords to your child’s accounts and monitor them daily, asking questions if you see something suspicious or unsettling. Parents can also help their children avoid this type of harassment by keeping an open line of communication.
This Is What MamaBear Was Created For
MamaBear, The Ultimate Parenting App™ closely monitors your child’s popular social media accounts all in one convenient newsfeed, including what they are posting, tweets and pictures, and also what is being said back to them through comments, messages or any other means of communication.
The app, available on iPhone and Android devices, will alert you to any signs of bullying creating the opportunity for you to open up a line of communication and extract information from your kids. The MamaBear app also offers a private communication portal so you and your family can share messages and stay on top of any situation. Your kids do not have to be a victim to cyberbullying. Use MamaBear and be aware and informed before your child has a problem!
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Retired baseball player Curt Schilling may have thought twice about sending a tweet to his daughter congratulating her on her acceptance to college if he would have known where it would lead them.
Schilling was so disturbed by the outcome of that tweet that he shared the experience in a blog post, “The world we live in… man has it changed.”
The post recounts the awful experience that Schilling and his daughter Gabby had with Twitter cyberbullies and trolls, and reminds parents everywhere why it’s so important to monitor their kids’ social media accounts and talk to them about how to protect them online.
What Schilling Learned About Social Media Bullying and Trolling
Schilling was a proud father congratulating his daughter on going to college and joining the school’s softball team. He wanted to share that pride with fans and followers.
But he got more than he bargained for when the tweets sent in response to his message went from congratulatory to downright vulgar.
The responses to Schilling’s post became filled with hateful, hurtful, and disgusting messages referencing his teenage daughter.
How Bad Can It Really Be?
Bad. We aren’t going to publish the terrible tweets that were sent to Schilling and later published on his blog. But if you don’t believe how bad it can really be, you can take a look at the tweets for yourself.
The sad truth is that this is not an uncommon situation on social media. Everyday cyberbullies and trolls send harassing and vulgar messages to people they know and people they don’t know.
Schilling admits that there are a lot of people that don’t like him as he is an outspoken conservative and former Red Sox player. But not even his decades spent living in a dorm room, hanging in a clubhouse, and playing on the field could have prepared him for what he found on his Twitter stream.
What’s In It for the Cyberbullies and Trolls?
Online harassment can be put into two categories. Psychology Today defines those categories as cyberbullying and trolling.
Cyberbullying is deliberate and repeated harmful statements or content with the purpose to:
- get revenge
- feel empowered
- gain popularity
- be offensive
- upset someone
- intimidate a person
Cyberbullying is usually initiated by someone the victim knows. Trolling, on the other hand, is usually done by someone the victim doesn’t know.
“Trolls” send messages to start arguments or make people feel angry or upset with the purpose to:
- entertain the “troll”
- be offensive and argumentative
- to bait the user into further dialog
- gain recognition
- feel powerful
In Schilling’s case, it seems to be a little of both. There were targets against him directly, and others that just seemed to stir the pot. Parents need to keep an eye out for both types of harassment as each can be equally harmful to children.
What You Can Do To Help Your Child
Sometimes it takes a parent witnessing social media bullying first hand to really understand the depths and the severity of online harassment. But through Schilling’s experience, parents can see just how important it is to monitor their kids’ social media accounts.
Parents need to stay vigilant and that means getting involved with their child’s digital life and social media world. They need to make sure that their child is not a target on social media or witnessing vulgar harassment that is sent to other users.
As a parent, you can get involved and stay connected using MamaBear, The Ultimate Parenting App™. The free app, available on iPhone and Android devices, sends parents messages anytime their child receives a direct message or is mentioned in a tweet, making it much easier to monitor online experiences and protect kids from online bullies and “trolls.”