LovetoLikeFB2We officially live in a generation Facebook society. No matter what age you are, from 13 (and I dare say younger) to 80 (and even older) everyone loves to LIKE Facebook.

You may be watching the news on television, listening to a talk show on the radio or even walking into a store – and you will hear or see an ad to LIKE them on Facebook.

It’s a Facebook generation. 

We will hear that teens are leaving Facebook. It may not be their number one platform, but they are certainly still there. We have to remember, it is the grownups number one social media platform according to the latest studies by PEW Research.

Facebook has so many benefits. From connecting old friends to meeting new ones. It keeps families connected that may live far apart, or even if they are across the street! It’s a great place to form support groups of common issues and create events that people of the same interests can join.

Social media has a way of making you feel special on your birthday, lifting you up when you are feeling down, and giving you support if you are heading out to a challenging day.

There has been times when I have seen posts and I would think, “I wish there was a dislike button” – since no one feels comfortable “LIKE-ng” tragedy. Or if you really think about it – when you lose a loved one, you get  a LIKE, does that mean they are happy you lost that person?  Of course not….

However now that Facebook has announced they are working on the ‘Dislike‘ button, red flags are flying.

When I discuss disliking an article posted, it’s simply that – an article. Usually someone would post a sad news article of maybe a youth taking their life or how cyber-criminals have found a new way to scam the elderly – it doesn’t feel right “LIKE-ng” these posts, but I want to acknowledge to the person that posted it that I read it.

I usually comment too – which obviously is the best alternative to LIKE-ng these types of articles.

However with the latest plans for the DISLIKE button many advocates and experts are worried about how teens will handle this type of emotion.  My concern is not only for the teens, but adults too.

It’s obvious, the ‘dislike’ button will most likely provoke online bullying especially among youth. We know they can live and die for the number of “LIKEs” they are receiving – we can only imagine how their self-esteem will be deflated when the ‘dislike’ button becomes engaged – or enraged.

Again, grownups can be mean, and they also have feelings too.

Dislike2Digital shaming is not a fad, it’s a trend today. When (if) this dislike button is implemented, it will become another tool for teens and adults to use. They both need reminders to be properly educated on digital citizenship, and the first rule of thumb is – being kind online (as you would be offline).

According to the most recent PEW Study, 73% of adults have witnessed online abuse, while 40% have been victims of cyber-abuse. On Facebook, this was witnessed firsthand when a parent formed a group to intentional bash (what she considered) ugly toddlers.

We can all preach about online abuse until the cows come home – we don’t need a ‘dislike’ button to remind us that ugliness exists online.

October is Bullying Prevention and Awareness Month. Let’s try to make a conscience effort to discuss, on a regular basis, the basics of online safety, cyberbullying and kindness.

Let’s remember, cyberbullying isn’t only about kids – we must include grownups too.

Keep it simple, but constant.

Safety: Never share passwords. (Ever – except with your parents). If you’re a parent – leave it in your living trust – you never know!

Sharing: Pause. Before you are about to share a post, photo, send an email or comment – literally ‘pause’ before hitting send. If it’s something sensitive, wait 24 hours.

Cyberbullying: Tell a parent or adult immediately. Parents, understand the number one reason kids/teens don’t tell a parent is fear they will lose their life-line. That is their Internet. Re-assure them you are there for them, it’s not their fault.  Grownups, never-ever engage. Don’t respond. Save evidence. Block. Report.

Kindness: Keep in mind, there is a human on the other-side of the screen when you do hit send. Be sure it’s someone you wouldn’t mind receiving. Every keystroke matters.

As with these topics, there is much more, however this gets the communication flowing. Ask your kids what new apps they have, learn about them, show them what you have learned too. Do you need help on your tablet or cell phone? Who better to show you than your child. You can learn a lot from them – and again, it opens up your dialogue.

What is most important is helping them keep their digital lives on track with their offline life. Once the “DISLIKE” button comes into play, we want to be sure that your child is emotionally strong enough to know it is only a button and has no real sense of value on their real life.

Your offline parenting skills need to start now to prepare your child to understand that online sometimes is not always the nicest place.

Learn from one of the best. Diana Graber, a Digital Citizenship teacher in California and co-founder of Cyberwise, recently wrote an excellent article about your choices for preparing yourself for the ‘dislike’ button of Facebook.

Remember, being a cyber-role-model for others is always a priority!