If you have tweens and teens, you may be quite familiar with online “drama.” Drama, in this particular situation, doesn’t exactly add up to outright bullying, but it’s walks a very fine line.
Young people have always found ways to intimidate and bring each other down a few notches, and the Internet is just another platform for them to do so. The following are a few examples of how they’re stirring up drama via social media and how to respond to each situation. We found this list from Common Sense Media.
Sub-tweeting and Sub-booking
What it is. ”Subliminal tweeting” is a form of bullying by exclusion. Public, passive-aggressive gossiping about someone on Twitter or Facebook without ever mentioning the person by name still makes it perfectly obvious who’s being spoken about. Typical exchanges look like this: Person A tweets: “Wear your skirt a little shorter, Miss Mini Skirt.” Person B replies: “R U talking about me?” Cue the digital drama.
What to do. Take it seriously, but don’t overreact. Work with your kid to report the behavior to the app or website as abusive and consider discussing it with the responsible party’s parents and possibly the school.
What it is. Following everything a person does online by “liking” all their posts — but not in a friendly way — almost to the point of cyberstalking. Say Person A Instagrams her fabulous slumber party photos for all her followers to see — including those not on the guest list. Uninvited Person B takes it upon herself to obsessively “like” every single picture, intimidating Person A, as if to say, “I know you didn’t invite me to your party, so I’m going to track you down, watch everything you do, and make you feel guilty.”
What to do. Be aware that kids will figure out creative (and mischievous) ways to use a site’s social media tools for purposes the site never intended. Encourage kids to work out real-life issues face to face.
Unflattering photos, snarky captions, and cringepics
What they are. Kids can drum up lots of digital drama with photos. Posting less-than-flattering pics of someone, texting a snarky (or downright mean) caption for an Instagram photo, blackmailing others with embarrassing pictures, and uploading super awkward pictures (called cringepics because they’re so cringe-inducing) — these all are violations of trust that can destroy friendships.
What to do. Review rules of responsible photo-sharing with kids. Make sure your kids know to ask permission before uploading someone’s picture. If someone uploads unflattering pictures of them without their permission, encourage them to ask the poster nicely to take the photos down or at least un-tag them.
Project B3 knows there are many more ways that kids and teens are stirring up drama online. But, we thought we’d call attention to the less overt ways teens and tweens hurt each other online. These actions are NOT okay and need to be dealt with in an appropriate manner, no matter which side of the drama your child is on. Keep in mind, your child may not always be the so-called “victim” in these situations.
At Project B3, we know that the best course of action is to always keep that conversation going with your kids…What are you doing online? Who are you talking to? What apps are you using? Remember to have your tween or teen use their device in a common area in your house, not hidden up their rooms. Limit the amount of time they are on their devices or playing games. Moderation is key and keep the conversation going of what is appropriate use of social media and what is not.