Sticks and stones…texts and tweets

Words can be very powerful….powerful for good and powerful to destroy. As our culture changes, social media provides new avenues to connect. Unfortunately, it can also be used to destroy. Here are some thoughts about words….

“…terms in the Bible for gossip include:  backbiter, busybody, slanderer, secrets, talebearer and whisperers.  So then, a Biblical definition of gossip would be to spread rumors or secrets, speak about someone maliciously behind their back or repeat something about someone else that you have no right to repeat.” http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/gossip-bible-verses-15-helpful-quotes/#ixzz2R62LkTOZ

If it is to be spoken, it should be part of a solution, to clarify, or to edify. I love the word “edify.” According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary online, edify is a verb \ˈe-də-ˌfī\, meaning 1: archaic a. build   b. establish;  2: to instruct and improve especially in moral and religious knowledge: uplift; also: enlighten, inform Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/edify

Thus, if our words are edifying, we are using them to build or establish such as a relationship or uplifting a person. It is constructive, never destructive.

When we speak about another person, we should consider our purpose of what we say, the possible consequences to others, and the possible consequences to you. As our adolescents, tweens, and teens learn abstract thinking, it is important that they learn the moral effects of words.

Social media amplifies the effects of words. Hurtful gossip that used to be only verbal among a few people is now amplified by social media routes that escalate the damaging words in seconds through each connection’s network of “friends.” As momentum of the juicy tidbit gains, the initial information, whether based on reality or malice, grows exponentially, both in those who participate by reading, disseminating, and further changing the initial message; and the enormity of the effects upon the subject of the information.

Tips to combat gossip:

  1. Don’t believe everything you read on-line. Be discerning and teach your children how to be discerning.
  2. If information is about another person, we should consider our purpose of speaking/writing it; consider possible consequences to others; and consider possible consequences to you.
  3. Consider the purpose of the gossip. Gossip provides an avenue for connection, at the expense of the subject.
  4. Do not associate yourself with one who spreads rumors.
  5. If you are present when someone starts to talk about other people, change the subject or walk away.
  6. If you are not part of the problem or part of the solution, stay out of it.
  7. When you are the victim of gossip, confront the parties that spread the rumor. Tell your parent or boss. It is estimated that approximately 10 percent of teens that are victims of cyber bullying tell anyone.
  8. Know the facts about the culture of kids live in. Become aware of statistics about how our youth are using technology. (Check out the links at the bottom of this post.)
  9. Keep communication flowing with your children. Know their friends on-line and off.
  10. Become knowledgeable about how law enforcement agencies are combating the every-growing problem of cyber crimes, and use them as a resource to better educate yourself and your family.
  11. Educate yourself about the signs of being bullied. The culture that our children are experiencing is much different than when we were their age. Be diligent and know what your child is doing, and what is being done to them. Assume they do not know how to cope with the bullying, and be there for them, even if they have made choices that you believe are poor or contributing.

Helpful Links:

Cyberbullying | StopBullying.gov

www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying

http://www.netsmartz.org/cyberbullying

30 Statistics about Teens and Social Networking By Taylor Thomas.  http://facebook-parental-controls-review.toptenreviews.com/30-statistics-about-teens-and-social-networking.html

Cyber Bulling Statistics. http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/cyber-bullying-statistics.html

How to Protect Your Kids from Cyber Bullying – USA.gov Blog