Social media to discipline kids?

October 25, 2012, 5:52 am
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(NECN) - Social media has been on the rise for years - and it has changed the way people communicate and interact with one another.

It may even be changing the way parents discipline misbehaving teens.

A couple recently took to the social networking world to embarrass their daughter, and in an unusual way of punishment, posted silly photos of themselves on her Facebook wall.

The parents reportedly took the girl's cellphone to take the photos and upload them to the site, where all of her Facebook friends could see.

Read more about this story here.


Harvard Sociologist Hilary Levey Friedman joined "The Morning Show" to discuss the controversial story.

She shared the following points:

o We've always had a mix of private and public punishments, even for kids. Even grounding, which you might consider private, impacts how a child interacts with others in public, so in a sense everyone the child knows is aware of the punishment.

o It does seem like more recently we have seen an increase in public punishments, but this is likely because the media picks up on them (both the mainstream media and social media-which has been bringing attention to these stories).

o Given that kids today live so much of their lives on the Internet, it's not surprising that some forms of punishments are going virtual.

• How impactful has social media been in publicizing these forms of punishment?

o Social media has definitely played a part. For instance, I first read about this story on Twitter two days ago. The girl's brother posted about the punishment onReddit, which ranked the story highly, which helped it get picked up my online sources, then more traditional media outlets like, well, here!

o Social media allows various people to weigh in on the punishment-from parents to teens to educators.  Their thoughts also are public.

• What is the impact of private punishment vs. public punishment on those being "punished"? Is public punishment more effective?

o In some cases it can be.  Peer pressure doesn't always have to be negative, it can also be positive.  Having to face up to actions in public may produce a greater response than simply responding to your family. 

o That said, the best thing to do is always to talk openly and honestly with children-these types of extreme public punishments are clearly not the first attempt at getting through to a teen.

• What are the long-term effects of this type of punishment on a child-parent relationship? Do parents realize what kind of long-lasting damage to their relationship they may be causing?

o We've talked about this before, but the biggest long-term concern is that these images and stories are not pretty much permanently on the Internet. The name of the girl hasn't been made public, but we could imagine ramifications for her for college admissions, future relationships, etc.  There could also be consequences of parents in terms of family relations, employment, etc.  What seems harmless now might not seem that way in a few years.

o This particular case seems fairly harmless, and it's a pretty modern, creative form of punishment. We all remember our parents embarrassing us. I'm guessing if this young women becomes a mom someday she'll look back on this incident with her parents and be able to laugh and enjoy it.  If the daughter whose father shot her laptop can forgive him, I'm sure some delete-able Facebook photos can be forgiven as well!


Tags: Parenting, Facebook, social media, smartphone, teen, cellphone, Discipline, Facebook photos
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