One student committed suicide. Another was convicted because of the texts she sent. Please keep talking to your kids because it matters and you do make an impact.
The article below discusses the details of a girlfriend being convicted by the words she wrote in texts to her boyfriend who committed suicide.
If your child is old enough to have a phone, then they are old enough to have a conversation about how important the words they use in communication can be in impacting another. I feel we have a responsibility as parents to talk to our kids about using these devices to build one another up by speaking encouraging words and waiting to communicate in writing when angry.
You could start this simply.
“I know you are super responsible with your phone, and I really appreciate that. While this discussion is probably unnecessary, I feel like it is important for me to talk to you about what I read recently in the news.”
Show them the article. You are raising children in the “igeneration” and they like to see it on the device for themselves.
“I want to remind you that our expectation is when you communicate by phone you are doing so as an encourager. I also want to remind you that anything you write using your phone is not private and could be shared with someone else. In this case, it was used against a young woman in court. Can you share with me some times that you have heard about when someone you know has used their phone and their words have hurt someone else?”
Give your child time to share and listen without being critical or asking who shared it. This is the time just to get them talking.
If you are a two parent home, you might continue by speaking for both parents or just for yourself.
“We also know that all kids struggle with being sad sometimes and during those times people’s words can hurt worse. We just want you to know that we are always here for you if you are struggling with sadness or if someone has said something that has hurt you. We promise to listen and support you. We also promise that just because you share one thing about someone, we won’t judge them and not want you to be around them because we understand people make mistakes. We also want you to know that if someone is constantly hurting you, we are going to ask you to look at that friendship and see if it is best for you.”
Remember to talk to your kids often about these things but keep it brief. You may receive a few eye roles and hear “really, mom” but keep going. They are listening and you are making a difference!
Questions for the counselor? I’m happy to answer them in the comments below. Have a great conversation with your child after reading this? We’d love to celebrate with and learn from you also. Feel free to share details below.