While I often find myself trying to encourage adolescents to use social media wisely and engage in proper Internet etiquette, it’s come to my attention how guilty parents can be of social media snafus as well. I think we all need to ask ourselves – is it appropriate to respond or not to respond?
My husband coaches our children’s flag football teams and instructs from the sidelines on the basics of the game. This past week, after one particular play, my husband pointed out a mistake made by the other team. He used the opportunity in to educate his players.
The next day, we heard from friends with kids on the opposing team that another parent on their team was unhappy with what he overheard my husband say to the kids on our team. Our friends learned this when they read a comment posted on Facebook. Thankfully, the parent that posted the comment showed enough self-restraint tonot name my husband, simply referring to him as the “opposing coach.” The comment said my husband was “bragging.” While I understand there are two sides to every story, I was incensed by the parent’s comments and his need to share his negative feelings publicly on Facebook. I know people complain about other people all the time, but complaining is now elevated when it’s posted to social media. It’s no longer isolated to a personal conversation, as a post reaches people well beyond our intimate circles.
The impulse to respond in these instances can be strong in the moment, but it usually invites additional Facebook posts. Following the advice I give adolescents, I did not respond to his negative post despite my anger of his misrepresentation of the situation) It is almost always best to just delete or ignore.
The incident gave me an even greater understanding of how difficult it must be for children, who still have challenges with impulse control difficulties, to refrain from responding to negative posts.
How are we supposed to teach our children social media etiquette when so many parents are posting negative remarks on their social media pages? Many parents are “friends” with their children on social media, so we have to assume kids are seeing these posts.
This experience furthered my commitment to teaching children the importance of considering the information shared on social media, before sharing it. As a parent, setting a good example, modeling appropriate behavior is a good first step.