“There is no rewind when it’s online.”
With one incisive statement, author and parenting and cyber advocate Sue Scheff
brings home the frightful reality of the seeming permanence of the things we say—and see—online. For adults, that reality means we need to summon up an extra measure of diligence when we evaluate and participate in the wired world. After all, our reputation and livelihood may very well depend on how we are represented online.
For kids, though, there’s another level of significance to their behavior online. And the repercussions of negative online speech and cyberbullying can be especially devastating because—let’s admit it—kids today inhabit and regard the cyber world with as much or more anticipation, fear, and need for acceptance as they do in the world they can see and physically feel.
In her interview with CPI, Sue provides an experienced, meaningful perspective and great takeaways for parents who want to better understand, participate, and help guide their child’s positive engagement in the digital world.
Sue’s perspective on why cyberbullying can be so hurtful is persuasive: “The fact is, cyberbullying is 24/7, 365 days a year, and this is why it's so damaging, and it magnifies them 1000%. It's not like they're being bullied offline and being bullied in the hallway, and it goes away, and you forget about it three or four days later, three or four weeks later. . . . It doesn't go away. And what happens is it gets to be published, and then another person talks about it, and another person, and another person.”
Even though cyberbullying can be devastating to its victims, they can be unusually reluctant to tell their parents about it. Sue explains that the “fear of losing their lifeline, fear of losing the Internet” is the “number-one reason why kids don't tell adults.”
She goes on to say, “The parent needs to understand and to tell their child you're not going to lose the Internet; you need to tell us if you're being harassed online.”
Sue also stresses that a cyber mentor can be a critical component in helping a child to confront and stop online bullying and harassment. She says kids should be taught “that when they’re in doubt, or especially when they're being bullied online or harassed online, when in doubt, it's time to click out
. Don't be afraid to click out, and only a mentor can give you the strength to do that. Usually it's an older person.”
Photo: IS_ImageSource / iStock / iStock
Sue begins her fascinating interview discussing her two books. In Wit's End: Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen
, Sue chronicles her own difficulties with her teen as well as offering prescriptive advice for parents who may also be at their wit's end. In her book, Google Bomb: The Untold Story of the $11M Verdict That Changed the Way We Use the Internet
, Sue tells the harrowing tale of winning a landmark case for Internet defamation and invasion of privacy after being victimized online and cyberstalked due to her advocacy work.
Check out Sue’s interview for more great tips and takeaways
, including how kindness and empathy can win out online, and why digital citizenship is now as important as potty training.
Do you make it imperative to have frequent offline talks with your children or students about their behavior and safety online?