Huffpost Parents
Jesse Miller Headshot

Don't Blame Facebook for Cyberbullying

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Many youth advocates say that the onus of online accountability and the safety of children is the responsibility of social media websites.

Over the past few years we have seen an increase in the number of stories associating the use of social media to cyber bullying linking photos, videos, and online posts into major events that parents are seemingly unaware of leading us to the increase of cases of teenage suicide with social media playing a primary role.

Parents struggle to help kids who are teased, harassed, and abused online by peers and Internet users in a chronic displays of high school drama, fueled by the perpetual clock of mobile connectivity.

We need to get a grip on ourselves as parents who raise children in a connected world, and recognize that it is not the responsibility of social media websites to raise our children. Kids will find a way to get online and the platforms will continue to shift with the trends of technology.

If we want major change, it will not come from laws or banning people from websites; it will come from parents, communities, and schools to engage in dialogue and education to raise children who have an understanding of digital citizenship and accountability for their online and offline actions, because accountability and respect still matter.

Parents: Facebook is not in the business of raising my child, nor should you expect Facebook to raise yours. It is not the responsibility of Twitter to make sure my child behaves well online -- it is my responsibility to make sure my child behaves in any environment, and when my child misbehaves, I trust that my network of friends, family, school staff, and my community will take the best steps possible to ensure my child is polite, caring and has empathy, informing me about the progress my child makes along the way.

Common sense parenting will tell you not to leave your child alone online but let us pretend for a moment that beyond the Terms of Service and Terms of Use provided by Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat that I wanted those social media websites and applications to have a more profound role in raising my child. If I wanted to engage in a partnership of child rearing with Facebook for example, would I be willing to put my name down to be accountable for the actions of my child online if Facebook gave me the option?

If I have to do is put a credit card down next to the agreement, would I?

Visualize a teen signing up for Facebook and the following pops up on the screen:

"Congratulations, you are one step away from connecting with friends and family from around the world. We trust that you are a 15 year old from Canada and see that you have accepted the Terms of Use by checking the little box of agreement at the bottom of the sign-up page (hopefully you actually read the attached document about how to use this social media platform and the rules governing your use). Just to make sure you are allowed to participate and in case you do something to break the rules we have outlined, we need to have an option available to know how to contact your parent or guardian and local police should we need to. Please have your parents verify your participation by imputing their credit card to have a $0.01 charge applied to their card for verification purposes.


THERE WILL BE NO FURTHER CHARGES, just accountability because we think that your parents should know when you are posting negative, hurtful, or illegal content and if you choose to do something negative, hurtful, or illegal, we would like to be able to put the onus of responsibility onto those who are responsible for you and your actions - having your parents verify your actions online makes any reporting faster and more precise and helps us identify who is using the account, from what computer and to help victims of online harassment and crime."

As a parent, would you enter that credit card information, essentially co-signing for your child and their actions?

Would social media companies give you the option to use your credit card or maybe the companies are aware that free is good business in the information world?

One measly cent to keep your kid safe and accountable on the Internet; you just have to be as equally accountable with sharing responsibility with other users to help protect your child from predators who hurt, harass and torment others online.

One problem, though: The people who hurt, harass and troll, that person might just be your child having a bit of fun online because it is just so easy to sign up without you or anyone else knowing.

Social media is free because we would most likely not pay for it if required. It does have a cost though, and we are seeing it with the lives of kids who are hurt everyday online and offline because of a post or picture that will not disappear from the Internet. Safe and smart social media use for kids starts with education, communication, and engaged parenting, not getting mad at Facebook.

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