Warning, this is a rant post. If you are here today for some humor, you will most likely be disappointed. Granted, there may be snippets of sarcasm, but this is a subject matter that is serious and deserves a serious post.
Recently I posted a link to a YouTube video of a very pretty, talented and sad girl named Amanda Todd on my Facebook page. Since then (and NO I am not taking credit for the blow up, lol, I am sure it was coincidental), there has been a lot of discussion about this young lady and her tragic story which ultimately led to her suicide. Her story has gone viral, and I see at least 30 - 40 people re-posting either the original video or links to a page dedicated to her on my oldest daughter's Facebook page. Does this girl deserve to be remembered? YES! Does my heart break for her? ABSOLUTELY! Do I think she could have avoided what happened if she had the ability to think of consequences? Maybe. I urge us all to look at the entire story and the circumstances that went into what led to her ultimate decision to take her own life. Use this not only as a lesson about what impact there is when a child is bullied, but as a lesson to teach our children that there are consequences for their digital actions. Stop and THINK before you post!
I am CONSTANTLY telling Manudo to think not once, not twice, not three times, but 100 times before posting a photo of herself on any of the multitude of social networking sites to which she currently belongs. The list includes: Twitter, Facebook, GifBoom, Skype, Instagram, etc. Some of these give the false impression that if you post something, decide it is inappropriate or you don't like it, that you can choose to edit or remove the content. I have news for you: Once something is on the Internet, it is there FOREVER. All it takes is for one person to save that image to their personal computer and repost it...just like what happened in Amanda's case.
If you have kids in the 12 - 17 age range, I am sure that they have at least a Facebook page. My challenge to you is to log into your child's Facebook page (and if you don't have access to your minor child's page, then shame on you), and look at what they are posting, Instant Messaging, and HIDING from you. Also, look at what their so called friends are posting. I will guarantee you that you will find any number of inappropriate posts/pictures/comments that will make you want to wash your eyes out with bleach. On my daughter's feed I have seen "friends" calling each other: Gay, Homo, Loser, Ugly, Bitch, Slut, Dick, Asshole, Stupid, Thug, Retard, Nigga', Butt Buddy, Fat, Anorexic, Pimple Faced, the list goes on and on and on. Seriously, if you have "friends" who do this to you what would your enemies be saying? What is even more disturbing to me, as a mother, is the way that girls and boys are constantly "pimping" themselves out there by asking for "rates" on their photos. Some will take multiple photos daily and post them to the site. Not even an hour will go by and they post they are depressed because their photo didn't get as many "likes" or comments as they felt necessary to make them feel like a worthwhile human beings. I have seen 12 and 13 year old girls posting pictures of their "cleavage", full length bikini pictures (with the caption, do I look fat?), pictures of their asses, and sexually suggestive photos of themselves. I have seen 12 and 13 year old girls posting about liking sex, wanting to "blow" someone, and pictures of themselves kissing and making out. Whatever happened to the saying "Pretty is as Pretty Does?" And the girls aren't alone, boys are doing just as inappropriate texting/posting/etc.
I was very surprised, and impressed, when one of my daughter's friends posted this picture:
BOTH stories are sad, but, could one have ended differently if they thought about the consequences of their actions? Bullying is a very serious issue. I also know I have been guilty of thinking "Well, I was bullied as a kid, and I grew up and was fine." However, kids who are bullied today face the fact that their torment is documented and shared virally, while the rest of us older than 20 only had to make it through the day at school. These poor kids are stalked in ways we can only imagine. It makes me nauseated to just think of it, and even more ill to think of how I would handle it if my child was the target of such bullying as Amanda or any number of other children who are just trying to fit in today.
All I know is I am and WILL monitor my children's social media until they are 18. Our deal is if you want access to these sites, you have to give me your log-in information. Same rule applies to cell phones and texting. It isn't because I am nosy and do not respect my kids privacy, it is because I am their mother and my first job is to protect them, not FRIEND them.
Rant over. I am sure many of you disagree, but if you think I made any valid points, please talk to your kids and better yet, share this post with your friends.