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?