Facebook - the pros & cons
Social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo can be great: keeping up with friends, making arrangements. But there can be downsides, too, and girls need to be aware of them and how to deal with situations that might arise, and which can wreck friendships.
Just as adults regret the impulsive email, for girls there is something about the immediacy of electronic communication that makes them drop their guard and that comment about what someone was wearing, which, said face to face, with the appropriate “softening” body language, might just have been ok-is there, with all the force of being in print, for all the world to see-and to add in their comments, with the inevitable resultant hurt and damage to friendships.
These situations are all the more difficult to untangle because contributors can make their comments under pseudonyms. For parents or schools, trying to establish the identity of “Pretty Girl” is nigh on impossible-and, for girls, not knowing who’s writing comments about them is often more hurtful than knowing who is!
So-how best to advise your daughter?
- If possible, especially with younger girls, have the computer in a family space so that you can keep a “casual” eye on it. You’d be surprised how much use is made of social networking sites on computers in girls’ rooms long after you think they’re asleep!
- Set some guidelines as to who your daughter gives access to her site and how long she can spend “chatting” to her friends.
- Discuss with her how she’ll respond if messages start to get unpleasant.
- Remind her that what sounds clever and witty when spoken may not be ok when it’s received in writing.
- Remind her that this kind of unpleasantness, especially if it goes on over a period of time or if a “cyber gang” forms, is increasingly being considered by schools as bullying, with all the consequences that would arise if it were happening in school.