Tips for Dealing With Online Mistakes
The issue of online mistakes is a fairly new one and we have to ensure that as parents, we are ready to deal with any fallout that can possibly occur from mishaps that happen over the Internet. When I was a teenager, the most embarrassing mistakes I could have made would have been getting asked to read a chapter from a literature book in front of the class. Times have changed and as parents, we have to change in order to prepare our children for the large connected world of the Internet.
Just like real life, mistakes can be made online and it is not just kids that have this problem. There are things we say or photos that we share with others that we would like to forget about or omit, but once something has been broadcast on social media, it has the ability to be around for a long time.
Fortunately, there have been so many of these common mistakes on social media feeds that people have become desensitized to it. It is easy to understand that mistakes have been made and move on, but as children the drama can be a bit overwhelming. Kids make these mistakes as well, as they are just learning and their social skills are still developing, so it important that we guide them in making the right decisions, and helping to rectify them if they are the wrong decisions.
As parents, we can use our past experiences with social mistakes and apply them to the same mistakes that our children can look out for. By sharing our own experiences, we teach them the importance of keeping a good online reputation and keeping sensitive information safe. The Internet and all the new etiquette involved are new for everyone. It is good for our children to know that we are there for them and can provide support if they get into tricky situations.
We can follow certain steps in order to prevent it from happening in the first place, and then to deal with it in the right way if it does.
Step 1: Education
We need to ensure that our kids are astute when it comes to using social media and other online platforms. We need to teach them the reasons why it is important to be sensible and smart when using the Internet. If your child is posting embarrassing pictures of themselves on social media platforms, then they are asking for trouble. We need to ensure that our kids also understand that anything they do online is accountable so that prospective schools, colleges and universities will look through social media to see if that applicant is acceptable. Different scholarly institutions have been known to turn down applicants simply because of pictures or comments they have shared on their social media pages. Education is the first step and a preventative measure, but no one can expect to be perfect all of the time.
Step 2: Assess the situation
Find out exactly what has happened and why. See for yourself what the issue is and decide on how serious it is. Most of the time, the situation can be rectified by deleting the offending post or item and laying low for a while. If the cyber bullies are being offensive then almost all social media platforms have a way of blocking and reporting the bully. If it is really serious and offensive then take it upon yourself to save the messages or comments and report the bully to both the school and the proper authorities. Harassment is a serious issue and online bullies often use racist, sexist and homophobic insults.
The same can be said if someone is messaging your child and sending inappropriate content. It may drive you mad and get you angry, but that will not help the situation. If your child is being sent inappropriate images or you think someone is forming an inappropriate friendship, hand the details straight over to the authorities to work through the situation as well.
Step 3: Move on
Mistakes happen every single day by the tens of thousands. People send the wrong information to the wrong people or write things that only sounded like good ideas at first. The important thing to remember is that although mistakes are made, it is ultimately how we learn from them that define us as a person. Talk openly about what happened and don’t try to cover anything up. Delete what you can, sort any mess that has been made and make amends and move on. Learning things can be rough experiences, but once you move on then you will have gained life experience for making better decisions in the future.