It's easy to be mean in front of a screen. There's just something about that screen that gives courage to type something one might not even say out loud and teens today have no idea the repercussions their actions may have.
I've written exhaustively about the way we've tried to manage cell phones and social media in our household. It's an evolving conversation balanced with safety interests and proper boundaries.
While our 16-year old couldn't care much about social media in his life, it was different for our 14-year old as she figured out the effects of the popular tween/teen social site, Instagram, on her life.
It was easy to feel left out or have feelings hurt as friends posted pictures of where they were and who they were with. When we were growing up, the only way we knew if our friends were hanging out without us was because someone told us days later, now you know in an instant if you're excluded and it stings.
Even as an adult, sometimes.
There's been articles written about FOMO, that is the Fear Of Missing Out, and the depressing effects that Facebook can have on us and none of us are safe from the mean on the internet.
When you put yourself out there, whether that's a photo on Instagram, a status on Facebook or a personal blog post, there will always be mean lurking in the comments.
Local writer Galit Breen is no exception. She wrote an article last summer about her happy marriage and commenters attacked her size. A few months later she wrote another article.
This time about her original article and what had happened. Shortly later the Today Show and Inside Edition invited her to speak about the experience and after realizing she did the write thing by standing up and hearing her daughters ask about having an online presence, Galit had an idea.
"We need to teach kids to be kind online," she said.
And so she did. She wrote an entire parent-friendly book about teaching our kids how to be kind online. Kindness Wins
is a "simple, no nonsense guide for parents" that includes 10 tips for really getting kids to be kind online.
Described as part parenting manual and part conversation, the reviews on the book have been impressive and have definitely encouraged me to check it out.
As parents we so often are stuck in this department because we too are just figuring out what works or what doesn't that I appreciate a new perspective and ideas of really teaching our kids about why being kind online matters.
Have you had conversations with your kids about social media? What social network sites do you allow them to be on?