EDITORIAL: Parents should be involved

By Observer editorial October 14, 2013 11:26 am

It used to be parenting involved stepping out on the front porch and yelling for the kids to come in for dinner.

Now it’s a whole different ball game. Welcome to cyberworld, with all sorts of communication and learning opportunities at one’s fingertips. It’s like entering a giant library without leaving home. Or entering a giant city, even the bad side of town.

The Facebook and Twitter age, the text messages, emails and posts, have turned bullying from a playground activity to one that goes on 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Parenting, of course, has always been a 24/7 activity. Parents need to be eternally vigilant to know what their kids are up to online and to monitor that activity so kids don’t stray onto the wrong side of the tracks.

That’s the advice cyberbullying expert Cheri Lovre, the director of the Crisis Management Institute of Salem, gave during programs last week at La Grande High School for parents and community members. Parents, she said, should not blame schools for problems, or expect them to be the fix-it guys. Much of cyberbullying goes on when kids are away from school.

Parents need to take personal responsibility to make sure kids are not cyberbullying — or being cyberbullied. And if the kids are cyberbullied, parents need to intervene in a gentle way to rectify the situation and make sure their kids know they are loved. Parents need to empower their kids by not overreacting but just asking them what is going in their lives, whether that is the fun or the painful.

Words can be used as weapons, but how we react is up to us.

We want to make sure our kids are looking forward to going to school and all the joys and accomplishments that can bring rather than feeling angst over encountering their electronic nemesis in the flesh.

Some people would say just unplug from this 24/7 cyber world. Become a Luddite. Don’t worry about what others are saying online.

That, however, may be unrealistic in the Information Age. Face it. Kids will be online, whether we like it or not. And there will always be cyberbullies lurking in the electronic bushes looking for victims.

The bottom line is this: Know what your kids are up to online. Bringing a child into the world is a complicated, sometimes painful and often rewarding business. Take personal responsibility for raising kids who can be responsible citizens in a complex, ever-changing world.