Many parents film their kids and post the videos or pictures on social networks, be it the kids having fun, crying or going through distress. While the trending video or picture may appeal to other younger kids experiencing the same thing, kids may copy that mode of dealing with emotional pain as a trend, says Montana-based clinical psychologist Kgadi Tijane.
Tijane says social media has revolutionised the world. “In a split of a second, information reaches thousands of readers and followers.”
She says it can be a very useful tool in many ways commercially, and it can raise awareness about certain societal issues, but on the downside it can have far-reaching adverse consequences when it is used senselessly and without considering the impact of the message being sent.
“This is particularly when it comes to children who do not even consent to their pictures being posted. Ethically speaking, the parent might be carried away by emotions and post the picture or video, however this violates the child’s right to privacy in many ways,” Tijane says.
She says the child might be stigmatised and carry a lifelong label of a parasuicide, the attempt to kill oneself without the actual intention of dying, which may also impact on the child’s future career choices and self-esteem. “Parents need to remember that putting something on the internet (social media) is very easy and quick, but removing it is very difficult and the damage may be far-reaching than they intended.”
Tijane advises parents of bullied kids to deal with their children in more calming way. She says parents must acknowledge the pain and shame their child might be feeling in a dignified manner. “Involve appropriate stakeholders such as the school authorities, the bully’s parents and where possible the police, social workers and psychologists.”
She says it is also important to remember that the perpetrators (bullies) might be acting out of a deep-seated problem that needs to be resolved for them to heal too.
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