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Kids Today: The Social-Media Menace

Reflecting on the recent suicide of a Florida middle schooler who was apparently the target of relentless cyberbullying, educator and online advisor Annie Fox argues that social-media sites should be pressured to incorporate real-time, real-life moderation. Then, too, she adds, adults—including teachers—need to take a far more active role in kids' social-emotional development:

We also have to do our part, as parents and teachers. Our children seriously need an education at home and at school. Kids are so vulnerable to peer approval addiction, their thinking about right and wrong can get totally warped in the moment. Parents, kids, teachers, school administrators, counselors, coaches, youth leaders, mentors, all of us need to do more to reel in the culture of cruelty. Every day in which we react to a tragedy with a make-shift memorial, instead of the daily work of building schools and communities of compassion and respect, is a day we've failed our kids.

Emily Bazelon, author of Sticks and Stones, relays the importance of having conversations with kids about the dangers and negative aspects of social media.

Similarly, Rebecca Levey, who is the co-founder of a web site for children under 13, is flummoxed by parents' lack of involvement in kids' online lives. "Where are the parents of the girls using these apps and social media as weapons?" she asks. Good question.

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