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Internet Family Fun

Kids and Blogs - The Danger of Speaking Their Minds

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Internet Family Fun Home > Internet Safety > Kids and Blogs - The Danger of Speaking Their Minds

Speaking Their Minds Can Create Serious Consequences

As parents, many of us have been so angry with our kids that we have blurted out or muttered under our breath, "I'm gonna kill him". It is something said in the heat of the moment and of course it is not something we intend to carry out. When we were kids, we often joked around about hoping the school would burn down so we didn't have to go the next day. We would meet our friends and talk about Susie or Joe and how terrible they were. We would all say vicious things about him or her and blow off steam and that was the end of it.

In a post-911 and post-Columbine world, our kids have to be careful about saying things they don't mean. We can no longer over-look threats because so many threats have come to fruition with disastrous outcomes. Authorities and parents can no longer let comments go as "kids being kids" because of everyone's safety. We have to take these things seriously because it is a scarier world than it once was.

Today our kids keep online journals and blogs to share their feelings with the world. Now instead of saying things on a playground with their friends, they are publishing their thoughts on the Web for anyone to see (even private blogs that are shared with close friends can be copied and forwarded). An off-hand comment about Susie or Joe can no longer be denied if it appeared in print and it can be misunderstood. In-the-heat-of-the-moment comments made about wanting to do someone harm as pay back are in print and can no longer be denied and slander lawsuits could result from this normal kid behavior. Even joking around about hoping that the school would burn is in print and others read it and they can't tell that it was a joke by the expression of the face or tone of voice.

The obvious question is, "What is a parent to do?". We as parents need to talk to our children about what is appropriate to say especially when it is spoken in anger. They also need to understand that putting something is print is far more serious. After all, a comment about beating up their former best-friend that stole a boyfriend or girlfriend that is read by someone and taken seriously, could land them in family court or worse instead of it being forgotten the next day. A good rule of thumb to teach your children is to establish a 24-hour cooling off period before posting anything, even in draft form. Children need to be taught that once something is saved on a computer or transmitted, there is a record of it and it can't be taken back even if they didn't really mean it. This includes instant messages, emails, and blog posts. It is a different world that our children are growing up in, we need to recognize that and teach our children how to act in this new world.

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