Recently in a middle school girl support group I was running, the girls were talking excitedly about mean texts and messages they had received. And by the way, all of them had experienced this.
Charlotte: “I got so tired of reading all of these negative messages, it made me depressed. And it wasn’t just from one person, it was from a bunch of people. After the 1st week of school, I decided one day to just turn it off. So I shut down my Facebook and Instagram sites and took a vacation from all electronics. Except my phone, but I blocked a lot of people, and if I started reading anything that seemed negative, I immediately deleted it without reading the whole message. I have been so happy the past 3 weeks, and much less stressed.”
Bravo! I wish that every girl in middle and high school had the courage and wisdom that Charlotte exhibited. And by the way, they all do; they just need some guidance and education in order for it to emerge. Girls are so afraid that if they don’t check all the sites 24/7 that they will be quickly be out of the loop with what is going on socially, and there is some truth to this thinking. That is how kids keep in touch these days. But I do want them to be in charge of what information they allow into their brains, and to value themselves enough to set good boundaries. They don’t have to or deserve to put up with any crap from anyone.
And here’s a place where parents can intervene in their daughter’s behalf: set limits on usage of technology. This is true for every kid, and if parents notice online bullying towards their daughter, they may need to step in and encourage/make them take a break from these sites. I think parents should let their kids know that they will be monitoring phones and social networking sites periodically, and it’s also helpful to for kids to show parents their sites to educate them about how they are taking care of themselves. And this should be an ongoing project.
Guide and encourage your girls about taking care of themselves online, and don’t be afraid to step in when they are over their heads. Taking breaks sometimes from the 24/7 news cycles and dramas can be incredibly de-stressing and calming. It may be the best vacation your girls ever experience.