Should Parents Embarrass Kids Online as Discipline?

BY: - 14 Aug '13 | Parenting

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After a 13-year-old girl was caught lying about her age, and several other things about her identity, her parents posted this video in which they expose their daughter for who she actually is rather than the 16-year-old vixen she claims to be. In the video, they question their daughter about all of the lies she has been posting online, including lying about her age, sexual activity, and fights, among other things, while she sobs the entire time.

The video is just another in a long line of videos of parents disciplining their children through social media. First there were the parents sitting their kids outside with signs. There was the dad who famously shot up his daughter’s laptop after she decided to bash her parents on Facebook. There was the uncle who beat his nephew online after he went on social media claiming to be a gang_banger.

I understand the rationale behind the videos. Parents embarrassing their children is nothing new and embarrassment, when used properly, can work surprisingly well with teens. I can remember feeling like one of the worst threats in the world was to be “embarrassed in front of your friends.”

But “in front of your friends” is also a key part to the equation. We can now look back on those moments when somebody’s parent popped up in the party that they weren’t supposed to go to and laugh about it with those friends. But by disciplining kids online and shifting the consequences of their actions out of their physical world and into the virtual one, parents expose their children to judgment and ridicule by millions of people. To me, that just isn’t right.

These teens are now being introduced to the world, not for the good qualities they possess, but for their mistakes. People watching a one-minute video clip don’t get that whatever the children are being disciplined for isn’t all of who they are. Instead, parents have now introduced their children to millions as liars, cheaters, thieves, or sexually promiscuous.  They have placed their kids on a stage with the rest of the world as an audience to their discipline and permanently linked their children to negativity in the public eye.

I don’t think that the parents are being deliberately malicious. As the mother of a teen myself, I understand how much of a challenge it is to parent in the social media world, and to keep kids from making mistakes online that could permanently damage their reputations. But by broadcasting all of their failures, parents are just doing exactly what we tell our kids not to do; putting all of their information out into the world for everyone to see.

I believe that as parents, we need to pull discipline off of YouTube and back into our own homes. Being a teen is hard enough without the added pressure of your mistakes going viral.

BMWK – What do you think? Are these type of videos necessary, or crossing the line?

About the author

Aja Dorsey Jackson wrote 183 articles on this blog.

Aja Dorsey Jackson is a freelance business writer in Baltimore, Maryland and author of the blog and book, Making Love in the Microwave.


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10 WordPress comments on “Should Parents Embarrass Kids Online as Discipline?

  1. Cm

    I agree. I’m sure the parents figure the only way to punish them for their social media use is by using social media, but by embarassing their kids and opening them up to ridicule which could go on for who knows how long could only deepen the rift between parent and child. I don’t expect kids to want to be open with their parents or maintain a close relationship after feeling shamed.

  2. Ronnie Tyler

    The video that sparked this post was a bit much…I could not watch it. I know the parents were trying to teach her a lesson…but I don’t think that type of public humiliation was the key (in my opinion.)

  3. G

    I agree! Public humiliation of any type is not a recipe for success. Honest communication always work best. Teenagers may not appear to be listening, but they are. Respect is a two way street, regardless of age. When they feel their thoughts and opinions are valued in an open discussion… they tend to respond positively.

  4. Ms. Kisha

    While, I’m not totally against it, I think that this video does take it too far. I believe there should be other forms of communication before taking it to video and putting it on the Internet where it will NEVER go away. There are some children who need you to take it there but I can’t say that is the case here. Something like this will either turn out good or bad.

  5. Rani

    Lets face it, public humiliation isn’t a motivational tool. We all know that as kids growing up we have lied about a lot of things, somethings were more serious than the next, yes! Social media is a venue of judgmental comments and a child shouldn’t be exposed to any humiliation at all, rather than one of the magnitude. Children at that age may know right from wrong but their curiosity sometimes overruled their ability to do the right thing at times and that’s why their are developmental stages of life( Eric Erickson), in which a child may behave in a way that is contrary to what we call normal behavior and one that is conducive to his or her cognition which is still developing at that age.

  6. JM

    While I don’t agree with posting videos, I did like this one lady’s approach where she had a pic of her daughter holding up a sign stating why her account was being deleted. For me, and many of my friends, public humiliation was a kick in the butt to do the right thing. I had my mom follow me around in 8th grade because I was talking too much in class. I straightened right up! My only problem with social media humiliation is that obviously there was a lack of monitoring by the parent at some point. You can’t slack on your job then job straight to the harshest punishment. If you knew your parents were constantly checking your page would you post those inappropriate things?

  7. Cheryl

    I think the parents did the correct thing if you want the world to think that you are this type of female and you have no shame in posted it then you have to accept the consequences that comes with it. What is the difference with the parents embarrassing her versus the kids she knows calling her names. My now grown children know that if you show out in public then I shown out in public. When my son would get in trouble in school, I would tell my friends he would get mad. I would say your friends know and think it was funny so my friends and myself like a good laugh also.

  8. LaWanna

    Kids are more resilient than we give them credit for…this child was online for the world to see & read lies she told that put her in a negative light…if a molester got to her we’d be incensed! Stop the madness & hypocrisy! I say save our children by whatever means necessary! Most kids PRAY they had someone in their lives who cared as much…

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