Valdosta Daily Times

November 25, 2013

Family time can prevent heartache

The Valdosta Daily Times

--- — A September case in Florida brought national attention to the issue of bullying when a young girl named Rebecca killed herself following reports of extreme bullying by a group of other young girls.

Despite the fact that Rebecca changed schools to avoid her tormentors, she couldn’t get away from the cyber-bullying via social media sites.

Although prosecutors initially charged two girls with causing her death, the charges were dropped recently with no reason given. The girls had posted comments on their Facebook pages about Rebecca’s death, showing no remorse and admitting their actions.

Stepping back from this case for a moment, one thing is becoming increasingly clear in our country — social media sites can be destructive and children’s unmonitored access to them often creates misery and heartache.

In the old days, children with parents who didn’t care or pay much attention to them often became the neighborhood bullies.

These days, through the Internet, children are becoming bullies, and victims, far beyond the reaches of their neighborhood.

Some parents believe that they are doing their child a favor by staying away from their social media pages and giving them undisciplined access to cell phones and computers. Some parents simply limit the amount of time spent on them, not the content. Many are shocked when an incident comes to light about how and what their children are really doing on those sites.

School is out this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, and what better time to sit down with your child and discuss the good and bad of social media. Look at what they are sharing/ tweeting/ snapping/ posting and help them understand the ramifications of their words and images. Often children don’t grasp that what they put out there is seen by more than just a few of their friends.

Children also don’t understand how harmful comments, spreading rumors and venting their feelings online can be to others.

The parents of Rebecca are seeking national laws against cyber bullying. There may come a day when those who think social media is fair game find their comments constitute a criminal activity. It’s time to curb these actions now, before your child becomes the victim, or the tormentor.