Social media shaming as a parental tool?

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They're the viral videos and images that spread faster than wildfire. Parents calling out their teens or shaming them on social media because they're in trouble (KFSN)

They're the viral videos and images that spread faster than wildfire. Parents calling out their teens or shaming them on social media because they're in trouble.

National bestselling author and mother of three ReShonda Tate Bilingsley knows all too well about teens and social media.

"I am the queen, the president of the nosy parent club," she said. "I say it because it's my job to protect my children."

It started in 2012 when Billingsley discovered her 12-year-old daughter posted an alarming picture on Instagram.

"She took a picture holding an unopened bottle of vodka," Bilingsley said. "And she did a little caption that said 'I wish that I could drink this.'"

Billingsley says a hard lesson needed to be taught, so the next image her daughter posted, "I had a sign for her and it said 'since I want to post pictures of me holding unopened bottles of liquor, I'm obviously not ready for social media and will be taking a hiatus, bye bye.'"

While some applauded Billingsley for what she did others did not agree.

"Some people will say, 'Well, what you did was publicly humiliating her,'" she said. "I didn't think so at the time because I wasn't showing her face. But what it did, it went viral, and we used it as a teaching tool."

That was five years ago, and since then other parents have taken to social media to what many call "shaming" their teens. But is it right?

"I think it's something as a parent you have to be very careful," said Dr. Andres Viana, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Houston.

Viena says in some cases that punishment or "tough love" could do more harm than good.

"They may take the parents approach in a very negative way," he said.

Instead, Dr. Viena says the lesson and approach is simple - communicate.

"Have conversations about what the ramifications might be of posting inappropriate photos or messages online," he argued.

Dr. Viena says effective communication needs to be a 2-way street so it's equally important for parents to "listen."

"If we shut down that line of communication, it can feel overwhelming for them, that they really have no outlet, or have someone that can help them navigate the situation," Viana said.

As for Billingsley, there are no regrets. But it's something she probably does in today's social media world.

"I think some of the social media now, social media shaming has gotten out of hand," she said. "But at the time, I felt I did what was best for my child."

"And in fact, my daughter got to the point where she said, 'Wow, I'm glad that it was this that went viral,' and not the original picture."

Related Topics:
societysocial mediaparentingsocietyFresno
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