A Viral Facebook Punishment Is A Terrible Way To Teach Safe Social Media Use
I love social media. I think it’s great when people post over-the-top birthday parties to Pinterest, and I think dog-shaming is hilarious. But what’s funny for dogs is not funny for kids, and the trend of parents publicly shaming their children on the Internet for
attention punishment has got to stop.
A father named Kevin Jones recently posted on Facebook about making his 10-year-old daughter wear an “age-defining” shirt as punishment after he caught her pretending to be a teenager and telling people she was between 14 and 18 years old. She’s 5’9″, so people believed her even though she’s a fifth grader. Jones’ daughter had also gone behind her father’s back and made social media accounts where she was pretending to be older. Social media accounts are against her father’s rules, as was the secret boyfriend with whom the 10-year-old girl said she was “in love.”
That’s all a pretty big deal. I can see where her behavior would make any parent very nervous, especially when there is social media and Internet strangers involved. But Jones’ solution, while creative, does not seem like it will help anything at all.
“Heres the consequences behind her actions. An age defining shirt. Yes people she is 5’9 & 10 years old,” Jones posted on Facebook alongside an album of photos of his daughter wearing her punishment.
The shirt, which looks custom made, says “I am 10 years old” on the front and “5th Grader” on the back. He made her carry a princess backpack and wear a score of pink ribbon barrettes in her hair, then he posted the photo publicly to Facebook.
The photos of Jones’ daughter are going viral and have more than 260,000 likes and 80,000 shares so far. But publicly humiliating a 10-year-old girl does not seem like an effective teaching tool, and this particular punishment seems like it’s much more about the father making a post go viral than it is about his daughter’s online presence.