My son turned to me during our evening tuck-in, "Well, at school today "blank" said that "blank's" butt was on Facebook." He did a little uncomfortable giggle and looked into my eyes for a reaction. (My son is in first grade and has never clicked on any FB links in his life.)
I, of course, was angry...angry that there was obviously bullying and a child getting picked on. BUT, don't worry, I did not show this. Note: to get information, to process with kids, and to make the most out of teaching moments, remaining calm is key.
"Honey, do you know what Facebook is?" I truly was curious.
"Yeah, that thing with all the pictures." Yep, he knew. He's looked over my shoulder while I've been navigating my own FB account. I've showed him pictures of his cousins and other friends' kids that I know he finds interesting.
B did reveal the name of the person who made this announcement, but he was reluctant to tell me the child who was being made fun of. He didn't want to share. Its like he knew that someone was being targeted, someone who maybe isn't as socially acceptable as the other kids in the class. We all can remember this. I remember making fun of a new girl that wasn't as good-looking as the rest of the girls in the class. This was not one of my better moments as a child. My comments kept her ostracized for two years...until I moved schools. In fact when I went to a birthday party with some of my old friends, a full year after I transferred schools, one of my "cool" friends said, "You know, Abby is really nice." I swallowed a huge ball of guilt after hearing that comment. (Should I crucify myself even more and confess that I went from attending a public school to a private school, a private Christian school? Oh dear.)
Finally B confessed. My suspicions were confirmed. The typical child was being targeted. He giggled again and then buried his head under his covers.
"Oh honey, don't you think that made him feel bad?"
B shrugged his shoulders. "What if that was being spread around the school about you and when you were walking down the halls a 3rd grader came up to you and said, 'Hey, I heard your butt was on Facebook.' How would that make you feel?"
B looked a bit saddened, "Embarrassed." I then went on to say that the rumor was not true, I knew it wasn't. No butt was on FB, and then I proceeded to give a very helpful tip, "Never put body parts on the internet." I went into my classic conversation about such things, about how our private parts are special and are to be saved one day for our future wife as a gift. I added that once something is on the internet, you can never take it back.
Then this morning I read in the newspaper how FB is trying to open accounts for children, oh dear...please no. Do I really have to type it out, why I'm not a fan of this possible move? (Yes I realize many children have accounts by simply lying about their ages.)
Bullying has always happened, but the internet does seem to take it all to a much more damaging level. Parents are always commiserating on when to have the "sex" talk with their kids etc., but I really hope that parents are also thinking about the "internet" talk. And I hope that parents realize these are continuous conversations that appear organically in our relationships with our kids and continue to grow and evolve as our children and our world's change faster than we anticipate.