A Practical Guide for Parenting Millennials

May 16, 2016

There’s a trend I’ve noticed in kids of today and, unfortunately, it’s not something we can be proud of. It’s the reason why a video entitled “Ultimate drunk girls fail compilation” has over 19 million views on YouTube. It’s the reason why a kid grabbing his classmate’s failed test paper and broadcasting it to the rest of the class is met with a roar of laughter. It’s what I call a ‘celebration of failure’ and it’s encouraging our kids to make a spectacle out of other people’s misfortunes. – (click to Tweet).

Perhaps a video compilation of “ultimate fails” seems harmless, but what if the drunk girl falling off the toilet seat that millions are watching and laughing at wasn’t a stranger, but instead your own daughter? The sad story of Amanda Todd certainly puts the matter into perspective – the celebration of her failure, and the bullying she endured because of it, ultimately cost her, her life.

This celebration of failure is what perpetuates the cyber bullying crisis parents of millennials face, and sometimes the most obvious solution is to cut off access from the digital world. However, dealing with the problem in this way may not be the best solution. Instead of reaching out to her parents for help, Amanda Todd posted her cry for help on YouTube. But by the time her video went viral, it was too late. So why don’t kids speak to their parents when they face bullying online – when their own failures are celebrated by others?

A teen’s biggest fear is his or her device being confiscated, or that a parent will make a scene about what the child has been bullied for. This creates a barrier for communication. But think of it this way: You don’t smack a toddler who falls down when he or she is learning to walk. You’ve got to travel this journey with your teenager; this is not a time to be absent in their lives. Open the channels of communication. Explain to your kids that your door is always open, and that there is a safe space whenever they need it.

It’s also important not to be dismissive when your child approaches you about cyber bullying. What we can easily brush off as a rude comment can in fact take a greater toll on our children’s self-esteem than we can imagine. It’s important to create a feeling of trust and respect, because it is then that your child will be more likely to allow you into their world online.

Once this trust is established and communication is flowing, you are able to take action if need be. If the bullying becomes a serious issue, keep a “bullying diary”. Record every incident – the authorities will need this is you decide to lay charges.

Parenting isn’t what is used to be, and there’s no escaping the digital world we live in. However, with communication flowing and a solid foundation of trust, we can protect our children from the ugly side of the World Wide Web, creating a space to celebrate their successes instead.

Alex Hall