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Friday, October 25, 2013

Wake up, parents

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Yesterday, I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw that my daughter and a friend of hers had posted about a false Instagram account someone had started to say cruel and untrue things about certain kids who go to their school.

It took me a minute to find the Instagram app on my cell phone. I have an Instagram account, but I don't really use it. The app is mainly on my phone because Charlie has an account that he posts to using my phone sometimes.

Once I found the app, it took me another minute or two to find the offensive account. I was really sickened when I did. How could someone think it's funny or even remotely okay to say terrible, malicious things about someone else? Worse, the account was falsely ID'd as being owned by another student.

I blocked the user. But that was all I knew to do. I figured there was probably a way to forward the offensive material to Instagram for further action, but I didn't know how. Why? Because I've always fallen on the excuse, "I don't do Instagram."

What a crock of crap. Please, listen up, parents. If your kids are on social media, you better be on social media too. If they are on Facebook, get an account. Have their passwords. Log in under their accounts from time to time. Randomly post comments on their stuff, just so they know you are aware.

If they are on Instagram, be there. Yes, I had an account, but not a presence. You can bet I will now. The same for Twitter. And sorry, Annie, but I'll be signing up for Tumblr, too.

It's a lot to manage, so tag team it. Let your friends know where your kids hang out on social media and ask them to keep an eye out. I hope that if someone see my kids posting inappropriate or troubling statuses, one of my friends who sees it will let me know.

I'm keeping an eye on this Instagram bullying mess going on and I keep thinking to myself, "His (or her) parents would probably be devastated if they knew this was happening." And then I wonder to myself if they have any clue? I want to tell every parent to sit down with their kids' phones, laptops and tablets and walk through the activity of the past day or two.

Maybe the person who is responsible for all of this would be found? Maybe a parent would find that his or her child has been a target of the bullying. I would want to know that as much as I'd want to know what kind of stuff my child has been posting. What if someone posted some awful untruths about my beautiful child and I didn't know. Would she come to me? Or would she suffer in silence?

Should our kids expect some measure of privacy in their social media interactions? I suppose. But sometimes, a parent has to sacrifice some privacy in the best interests of the child.

This whole series of events has made me angry. And ill. At the same time, the fact that so many students have rallied behind the people who have been singled out makes me proud. And hopeful.

But above all, this situation has made me aware. Awake. If you are a parent, I hope you wake up too.


Jen Crutchfield said...

Jon and I monitor pretty closely. And yet, our son continuously opens new accounts. I truly don't think he's trying to get away with anything, it's just what he does. So we're always playing catch up. Also, it IS nice when people contact you when they've posted something troubling.

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Momza said...

Yup. Just another bit good parenting advice...never apologize for being involved and aware!

Just Heather said...

I monitor my kids' accounts (and those of her friends) very closely. I also monitor my friends' kids. I don't hesitate to call a parent and say, "you might want to ask about this."

It takes a whole village.