Don’t you hate it when you get blamed for something someone else did? A recent ruling held parents liable for their child’s harassment of another student, but should mom and dad really be sharing the responsibility for their wild child’s reckless behavior? Speaking as a fellow parent, I think the answer is obvious: Hell, yes!
Parental liability is not only a moral obligation, but a legal one. If your child is abusing others in his or her social media network, this is due as much to poor guardianship as bad manners. But don’t just take my word for it: Listen to the law.
As The Wall Street Journal reports, a precedent was set by a recent Georgia appellate court ruling on exactly that.
In 2011, a young boy created a Facebook page pretending to be a girl in school he was cyber-bullying. He posted profanity and unflattering photos, all in her name, and it humiliated her. When the girl found out who was behind it, she alerted the school principal, who took immediate disciplinary action: two days of in-school suspension. The parents also grounded the boy for 11 days. Good job, mom and dad? Not quite.
Despite the punitive measures, the page remained active for another 11 months, resulting in a courtroom battle that eventually led to the official conclusion that the main culprits here were the boys’ parents. The court deemed that not only ethical but legal boundaries had been crossed.
If fear of the law isn’t enough to scare you straight to investigating your kid’s profile page, here are a few more reasons to monitor your child’s Facebook activity (without actually friending them):
- If your child is pursuing a sense of personal validation online, he or she is obviously missing support at home — that should bother you. Put your own phone down and pay consistent and sincere attention to your child’s needs, and maybe they won’t seek to start trouble with strangers or peers online (and maybe you won’t either).
- Not only should you worry that your misguided children may be targeting innocent victims and getting you all into trouble, but they’re also opening themselves up to virtual predators and putting themselves in danger.
- Compassion tends to be contagious — and so is hate. By not encouraging/teaching compassion, you’re leaving them open to “everything angst,” as that’s what they’ll inevitably stumble upon when exploring the Web unattended.
- Age is another factor to consider. How young is too young to be surfing the oftentimes dangerous cyberspace? That’s ultimately for you to decide, but do you have restrictions set, or are you cool with your little kid happening upon soft-core porn when scanning YouTube for the latest “Minecraft” video?
And finally, ask yourself this question: If you found out that your neighbor’s kid was virtually harassing your own child, making his or her life miserable, who would YOU be approaching for answers?
Now go figure out what your little angel is doing online before it’s too late. (And if you’re wondering how to monitor their page without friending them, I’ll be covering that in an upcoming post.)
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.