Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Why children shouldn't use social networks

Today I lost my virginity one more time. I met my first cyber bully after I posted a video on InstaGram. I have a high tolerance to bullying because I grew up been bullied at school, no cyber bullying, just the simple, traditional, nasty, dirty, violent bullying at high school.  So given my previous experience this cyber bully in-training didn't take me out of my cool. I was able to think before reacting and sending her to a level of hell she probably never experience before.

Yesterday I posted a cute video of my daughter eating King crab legs in InstaGram. We always share pictures and short video of our children as they grow and reach new steps in their development.

It's lonely to be a stay at home daddy so the internet for me, is my only social interaction with other adults. Anyway, after a few nice and complimentary comments from my followers I get this one:

How this person dares to call my beautiful innocent 2 years old girl GROSS. I was pissed!! I quickly checked this person profile to elaborate a poisonous comeback, but all I see is her name and selfies of a young girl probably 6 or 7 years old, in some she is posing with her mom which she call: she is my friend and some other she is in front of mirrors with her top a little up to show her stomach. I just couldn't understand. First: a kid this young will make such a mean comment. Second: how can a child of her age gets to have an Instagram account?? 
So I calmed down, I had to admit a little disappointed I didn't have the opportunity to release my anger, and proceeded to answer with a funny and a little sarcastic comment hoping her mom will see what she wrote and do what she need to do, to teach her little daughter some manners. 

A few minutes later we took the kids to a local ice cream parlor which has the most original ice cream flavors and while I was waiting for my order I checked my phone and there she was, again. 

This time she sent the following messages which took some extra seconds to really understand what she was writing, which also confirmed my theory, she was a kid in early elementary school. 

Sadly she can't spell lawyer, I hope she meant to say her dad was a lawyer, but she totally nailed "Fuck You".  As I said before, it took me a few seconds to think and digest what she wrote. We usually don't curse at home and I didn't get some many F-You's in my life. So, even when it came from a child and from a cyber world, it still sounds as offensive. 

After the short shock, I felt very sad for this child. I thought about my own children and how this child was able to make such poor choice of words. I thought about reasons for this child to be so angry and disrespectful. What gives this 8 year-old the authority and power to say such words, and where are her parents?  I also thought of the consequences she may need to face someday for such behavior. It's frightening to think one of my beautiful toddlers in only a few years from now can be involved in a situation like this. 

Now I can understand vividly how a cyberbullying situation can get started. One mean comment and a few minutes later it becomes nasty and so on. How, whoever is on the other side, is going to handle this? Another 8 or 9 years old will probably take these words in a whole different magnitude. Yet parents don't have a clue because they don't know what they 8 years olds are posting and writing online. 

Taking selfies and posing with your friends in a social network is fun but it is also powerful and if it is not handled responsibly, it can be damaging too. 

I would like to know what you think about children having access to social networks. How do you handle a situation like this? How do you control your children's contents and comments in their Instagram or Facebook accounts? Should children have the right to express themselves in the open internet? Or is it the actual networks' responsibility to control and limit the age of their users? 

This was a minor incident but it gave me an aha moment, a teaching lesson to be used with my own kids in a few years. They better keep those Leap Frogs in shape because iPhones and iPads ain't happening. 

1 comment:

  1. Juan and/or Patrick, I'm not sufficiently wise as to offer counsel in the above matter, yet this will sound otherwise. I feel that it is best not to respond to provocative or mysterious postings. Life is precious and dangers might erupt from the least expected direction. I do not know to whom to report the above incident, but it's a matter to stay away from. Emotional entanglements (dramas)can hang on. I'm writing with the sincerest concerns for the safety and happiness of your family. I've often written to the effect that photographs of your children bring many moments of joy to me and I dare say to many others.