Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Parents and teachers need to prepare children for blogocombat.
I recently watched a news program on television, about a young boy who killed himself because some mean kids at school were calling him "gay" and "sissy boy" in a chat room that the child was addicted to.
Blogocombat, therefore, can be a life or death situation. Lacking strong online debate skills can result in death.
Why would any child be so masochistic, that they would obsessively visit a chat room that was abusive to and victimizing them? To defend themselves? To attempt to answer every new allegation? To try to win people over to his side?
Why don't we ask ourselves what kind of parents and teachers we are?
Why do we shun our responsibility and let our young people run wild in the web, "do anything they want" on the computer, without any supervision, guidelines, or preparation for the evil they are bound to encounter sooner or later?
Young people need to know:
* what a cyber attack looks like
* how to use smilies and emoticons to convey what the words themselves may not make clear
* how to tell a troll comment from a sincere, though troubling, remark
* how to be thick-skinned online and not let typed words hurt their self-esteem
* how to deal with "viral" venom
* how to distinguish playful teasing from hateful flaming
* how to tell playful sarcasm from sadistic abuse
* how to decide whether to fight back, say something funny, or ignore it
* how to deal with a "you suck" or "Johnny B. is gay" web site
* when to tell a parent, teacher, or law enforcement about a web-based attack
* how to defeat online "enemies" by converting them to friends
* how to bounce back from an online hate campaign
* how to post replies to angry critiques, wild accusations, and racial slurs and sexual smears
* how to be self-composed and not unduly affected by external events that are beyond our control.
Have you sat down with your child, grand child, or young friend and explained these urgent matters with them?
How would you handle the points listed above? Do you have experience in blogocombat?
Have you ever confronted someone online, defended yourself, or engaged in debate?
If you stay calm and rational, it can a lot of fun.
Remember: it's not about "winning", it's about discussing a relevant topic and learning about other viewpoints.