I think I can say without hesitation and with complete confidence that we all want the best for our children. And that means we want them to be safe both physically and emotionally. While the topic of anonymity is not new, it has been taken to an entirely new level and parents should be prepared.
There is a new danger on the Internet. It seems like every week a new concept emerges and we are forced to think twice about how to properly safeguard our children. Formspring has definitely sprung and it is loaded for bear. It is a scary, vile vehicle that teens use to anonymously destroy their friends. Read this article and then come back to this blog and join the conversation. Rachel Simmons is the author of Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, a brilliant and sensitive book about raising girls with confidence. If you have not read it, please consider it.
I hope you can spend a few moments reading the article I linked above and learn more about Formspring. Below are a few thoughts to help you wrap your minds around the social lives our children are leading:
1) It is all too easy for children to attack one another socially in school. Why are we allowing it to become easier and now anonymously?
2) Every child enters school each day with the same great fear: embarrassment. Formspring ensures that each account owner will be embarrassed every day. I cannot think of anything worse for our children to endure each day. They have enough to worry about without the fear of being ridiculed anonymously by their peers.
3) Allowing children to send anonymous, hurtful messages condemns them to a world where they do not have to take responsibility for their own words. Through Formspring children can cowardly hide behind the computer screen and believe that their actions do not have consequences. As adults and educators, we know the opposite is true.
4) There have been too many teen suicides in the news recently to ignore it and believe that this is not a concern. As parents we need to educate our children about the damage that can be done by not choosing our words carefully or using them to hurt others.
Lastly, I love this quote regarding Formspring from the Simmons article above. “There is zero, and I mean zero, value in this website and no girl or boy should spend a minute on it. Formspring creates unnecessary emotional risks. It legitimizes cybercruelty and divorces kids from responsibility for their words. You can pretty much file Formspring along with wouldn’t-it-be-fun-to-stand-on the-railroad-tracks-and-jump-right-before-the-train-comes and I’m-sure-no-one-will-notice-if-I-just-pocket-this-one-mascara.”
Below is an informal video of Rachel Simmons informing us all of a few reasons why we should teach our children about the dangers of Formspring.