Friday, February 23, 2007

children, blogocombat, and the cyber bully

Parents and teachers need to prepare children for blogocombat. I recently watched a news program on television, about a young boy who killed himself because some mean kids at school were calling him "gay" and "sissy boy" in a chat room that the child was addicted to.

Why would any child be so masochistic, that they would obsessively visit a chat room that was abusive to and victimizing them? To defend themselves? To attempt to answer every new allegation? To try to win people over to his side?

Why don't we ask ourselves what kind of parents and teachers we are?

Why do we shun our responsibility and let our young people run wild in the web, "do anything they want" on the computer, without any supervision, guidelines, or preparation for the evil they are bound to encounter sooner or later?

Young people need to know:

* what a cyber attack looks like

* how to use smilies and emoticons to convey what the words themselves may not make clear

* how to tell a troll comment from a sincere, though troubling, remark

* how to be thick-skinned online and not let typed words hurt their self-esteem

* how to deal with "viral" venom

* how to distinguish playful teasing from hateful flaming

* how to tell sarcasm from serious flames

* how to decide whether to fight back, say something funny, or ignore it

* how to deal with a "you suck" or "Johnny B. is gay" web site

* when to tell a parent, teacher, or law enforcement about a web-based attack

* how to defeat online "enemies" by converting them to friends

* how to bounce back from an online hate campaign

* how to post replies to angry critiques, wild accusations, and racial slurs and sexual smears

* how to be self-composed and not unduly affected by external events that are beyond our control.

Have you sat down with your child, grand child, or young friend and explained these urgent matters with them?

How would you handle the points listed above? Do you have practice in blogocombat and web wars? Have you ever confronted someone online, defended yourself, or engaged in debate?

I will prepare a How To Handle Cyber Bullies guide here soon.


Grayson said...

I added one critical line on my blog entry about "Teaching our kids to be cyber-smart." We ultra cyber-minded parents have a bit of an extra responsibility in this realm in that we now need to teach and model cyber-leadership skills for our kids. They will need it as they grow, and their peers will be looking to them for guidance and perspective in all-things-cyber. They will set the online behavioral for future generations, and yes, we are fully responsible for the directions of such "trends" as we move forward with our kids.

Stephan Tual said...

The internet used to be the refuge of nerds and geeks, where they could hang out in a community of their peers, feeling accepted and safe from the RL bullying at school. Funny how things change. I guess this is a 'jump the shark' moment.

steven edward streight said...

We must use songs for younger children, to influence their memory, and we must use technical instructions for the older kids.

It is our fault if the young generations are not prepared. It's our horrible karma if we shun our duty to know and teach what they need to know and pass on to their children and children's children.

There will be clued in and the clueless. The clueless will function as slaves to systems, while the clued in will transcend categories and live in freedom.