Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sue Scheff: What girls are learning online

Jane Balvanz an educator and a Female Friend Expert, she recently wrote an extremely timely and important article about raising our girls today. Parenting today's teens and tweens can be challenging and with the added stress of the Internet and cyberbullying, it can be downright impossible to keep up with.

Do mean girls grow up to be mean women? Jane Balvanz asked this question and has some great insights. Life is about change, as parents we need to guide our daughters and help them to understand that being mean is not cool.

Relational Aggression in Women: What Are We Teaching Our Girls Online?

By Jane Balvanz

A two-year-old child died recently. He drowned in a swimming pool, a parent's true nightmare. Controversy immediately arose online, because the child's mother tweeted the accident and eventually announced his death. Her Twitter timeline showed she had been tweeting most of the day.

In reaction, online moms tweeted support and made suggestions about fundraising for the bereaved family. Others questioned the validity of the death before it was confirmed and cautioned about sending money in case it might be a hoax. Once the death was verified, two clear factions formed. One supported the grieving mother and her choice of tweeting shortly before and after her son's death. The other questioned the mother's parenting abilities, suggesting her attention to Twitter led to her son's death. It devolved from there and went viral. Words became weapons.

Passion and Drama in 140 Characters or Less

The Internet is a wonderful tool that offers ways to give and receive information in a heartbeat. It can also be used to extend help or inflict hurt. In this case, relational aggression (emotional bullying) started within seconds of a mom announcing her child fell into a pool. Twitter is fast. Information flies as rapidly as you can type 140 characters and press send. Even though many heads of reason and compassion were part of this situation, passion and drama took over. Incivility prevailed.

There were tweeted threats (some serious), name-calling, campaigns, taunting, and cyber defaming. National news took notice and various blogs called the participants "mean girls." These weren't girls, though. They were grown women.

Do Mean Girls Grow Up to Be Mean Women?

Continue to part 2

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