Kids share lots of information – photos, texts, emails, videos, links, gossip, lies, rumors… you get the idea.
They do it constantly, copiously, and quiet often, thoughtlessly.
Rarely, however, are children actually trying to be mean.
So then, why do children cyberbully?
In this day and age, it doesn’t take much to become a cyberbully. One share can have an almost immediate and powerful effect.
And so often it leaves someone else under a deluge of sorrow.
The solution, however, isn’t to get kids to stop sharing information.
The key is to understand why kids share information so they can better understand their own motives and how to share information in positive and constructive ways.
Teach your child to ask themselves two questions anytime they want to share information:
why am I sharing this information (i.e. what is my underlying motive)?
is this the best way to handle this information (i.e. what is the impact of my action)?
Some of the reasons that children share information:
- Because they want to show others that they are in the know about some secret.
- Because they genuinely care about an idea and want to support it.
- Because they want to feel like they belong to a a group and that group happens to be circulating that information.
- Because they think this information impacts them and the group(s) to which they belong.
- Because something is funny and they want someone to laugh with.
- Because something made them angry and want others to share in their outrage.
- Because they dislike someone and they want others to join in that dislike.
- Because they like someone and want others to share in that appreciation.
- Because someone asked them to, and it’s hard to say no to certain people.
- Because the piece of information is something that they believe in, but they have trouble saying it.
- Because it’s taboo and it’s cool to show that they have access to stuff they’re not supposed to see.
Obviously, there are more, but these are some of the primary motivators.
The point, however, is to make children aware of their motives and to help them understand the impact of their actions.
Because maybe that will help them be more thoughtful about what they share and how.
And maybe then there will be fewer cyberbullies.
And fewer broken hearts.
* image by Kevin Conor Keller
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