Wednesday, December 13, 2017/lk
On Monday, schools in Grandview were locked down because of a threat a 13-year-old boy made on social media. And while the child should certainly be held responsible for his own actions, the incident begs the question, “Where were his parents?”
But let’s not chastise his Mom and Dad for failing to know what their child was doing online. They are no different than many parents today who think its OK to allow children to use the web without parental supervision.
Supervision, that’s where a solution to these types of incidents begins.
Supervision begins by keeping children off of all social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc. — until they are at least 13 years old. Not only is that responsible parenting, that’s the law. The federal Children’s Online Privacy Protect Act prohibits social media users younger than 13 years of age.
While some parents may think its cool when children falsify their age to get a new Facebook or Snapchat account, acceptance is teaching children its OK to lie and disobey the law. Children can stretch that “white lie” on age to believe its OK to break the law in any number of other ways.
Parents should be adamant about restricting social media before that age.
Once a child is old enough to use social media, it then becomes the responsibility of parents to monitor that use. Doing so may have helped prevent the Grandview incident. Parental monitoring would also likely help curtail much of the online bullying and cyber threats you hear about these days in teenage criminal, suicide, drug and other cases.
In the “old days,” parents used to get to know their children’s friends. They used to get to know those friends’ parents. But today, much of that parental monitoring has disappeared under the false belief children are safe online.
Social media today is the new playground, school hallway and hangout for children. It has much of the same pitfalls.
And new ones, if you consider children create their own language to hide their activities from the occasional parent eye.
All too often today we hear of the tragic ending of events that began on social media as bullying or threats. If we, as a society, hope to help our children grow up to be responsible adults, we have to show them that it starts with being responsible parents.
And being a responsible parent means keeping tabs on youngsters living virtual lives with virtual friends and others in the playgrounds of the social media world.
Children have a need for parenting more than they do online privacy.