Social media has brought us closer together. But it has also torn us apart. In a world where we hide behind Facebook profiles and Twitter names, cyber violence is growing and hatred is everywhere.
As adults, we remember a time when you needed to behave in public. And this memory is there somewhere in a way limiting our social media rave. We say more online but most of us never cross the limit of good manners.
It’s different for our children, however. They don’t remember a time when you had to look someone in the eye to tell them what you think about them. That’s why cyber bullying among teenagers and children is so widespread and common.
But it is also dangerous. Children’s psychological balance is fragile and someone needs to be responsible about what their peers say online.
It turns out that the responsible ones will be the parents.
Courts ruled in favour of parents being responsible for what their children say online.
It all started in 2011 when Dustin put up a fake Facebook profile defaming his classmate Alexandria Boston (In USA). The parents were informed and the boy was suspended from school while the profile was supposed to be taken down. Recently Georgia Court of Appeals has ruled that Dustin Athearn’s parents have been negligent after not taking care of the fake profile being taken off social media.
This precedent stands to show that parents will be held liable from now on if their children’s social media activity is found defaming or incorporates hateful language or action and cyber bullying.
How is liability triggered?
There are several requirements for liability of the parents to be triggered. First of all, and most importantly, there should be proven harm from the child’s online activity. So if there is a complaint, physical or emotional damage, this is the first trigger for liability. The second one is that the parents of the person of interest are informed of that activity and they don’t take any action.
If parents are unaware of social media activity that is harmful they cannot be held liable. As soon as parents are informed about complaints though, they become responsible for solving them.
What should you do?
The only sensible thing to do is talk to your child about social media and cyberbullying.
Explain them that it is not only bad, unfriendly and harmful but can also lead to serious legal consequences like fines and even jail time.
You need to have the conversation and show them that they and you together hold the responsibility. It’s advisable to also show them examples of cyberbullying victims and legal cases that will show them that social media is neither a game nor a joke.
Social media can have serious legal consequences for you and your family so we advise you to have that talk altogether as soon as possible.
Have your kids experienced cyber bullying? How did you handle it? Please share in the comments below.