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Cyber Shaming as Discipline: Right or Wrong?

Kimberlee Leonard

Posted on April 23, 2018 20:07

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Parents use social media to document punishments for kids. Does documenting childhood mistakes create the desired results of behavioral adjustment?

I often find myself on Facebook applauding parents doing the tough work of parenting. Some of it pretty basic stuff like managing to make dinner when your child has a diorama due first period. Maybe it’s a single mom with limited resources pays for private school. I constantly am in awe when I see parents just getting it done. 

Then there are the instances of parental cyber-shaming discipline tactics. A teenage girl sends a boy a racy picture and her father documents her punishment for the viral world to see as he cuts all her hair off in dramatic fashion. Or the boy standing in front of his school with a sign saying he’s a bully and asking people to honk if you hate bullies. 

The first time I saw one of these videos, I nodded my head in approval, thinking, “Wow that is some strong parenting.” I began to see more instances going viral of this cyber-shaming discipline.

And the more instances I saw, the more I began to wonder if it’s the right way to go. Maybe. There is no book that shows us how to be good parents. Maybe these kids have effectively changed and have no residual effects from a digital footprint of shame.

But are parents going too far by cyber-shaming their children for discipline?

While I’m sure there will be a million research studies dedicated to the long-term benefits and consequences to cyber-bullying, we simply don’t have the answers right now. As parents, many of us are wading through parenting as best we can and of course, perfection is impossible. I’ve made mistakes, tons of them.

Yes, kids need discipline but maybe there is a different method. The more I consider both sides to this story, one thing comes back to my early parenting days that has stuck with me: does the punishment equal the crime?

Whether you agree with what the criminal justice system deems as an appropriate punishment for real crimes, the same theory holds here.

Kid didn’t do his homework; he loses video games for the night. Maybe a few nights if it’s a recurring problem, but you won’t take the video games away forever based on one or two bad nights. When kids are little, this is a much easier theory to practice. 

As they grow, problems, mistakes and bad choices become bigger, but I don’t think creating a cyber footprint to remind a child of their bad choices ­– that are similar to what many of us middle-aged parents did as teens without being captured on camera – is the best option.

This is my struggle as I find myself applauding parents for stepping up and doing the dirty work of parenting. They obviously care about their kids and want to teach them right and wrong. Only time will tell whether these tactics are too excessive and have long-term negative effects that outweigh the immediate goal of implementing a meaningful punishment.

Kimberlee Leonard

Posted on April 23, 2018 20:07

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Source: People

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