Is Social Media Causing Our Children To Lose Their Compassion?

I’ve been in rant mode for the past couple of days after reading the story I’m linking to. The basics are that 5 teens between the ages of 14 and 16 not only watched a man die by drowning, and not only egged him on and made fun of him while it was happening, but shot video of it from their phones and then posted it online.

bad social media ethics

You read that correctly. They posted the video on YouTube, and not a single one of them thought it was important enough to call 911 or try to help the man to safety. Even if it’s possible that he was trying to commit suicide, I can’t imagine standing around laughing at someone trying to kill themselves even if that was the case.

What’s even more shocking is that, once the police figured out who the kids were and brought them to the police station to question them, one of the kids didn’t show any remorse whatsoever; a man’s life meant nothing to him. Isn’t that scary; the little punk psychopath!

If that wasn’t enough for you, then let’s add this story about a rape video that some juveniles shared online (that was downloaded over 100 times) who are now facing charges of distributing child pornography. It’s bad enough to know it’s a child, but would it have been any better if the girl had been older?

I’m not one of those people who’s ever jumped on the bandwagon and blamed video games for some of the violent tendencies that some young people exhibit after playing them. I’ve always figured that those folks had the tendencies in them already, and that most of the kids with the tendencies who play the games at least have an outlet to put that tendency in; there are few murders or incidents that occur because someone got juiced by playing a game, and those that do usually already had problems.

I am blaming two things though; parents and social media. I blame social media for not having enough safeguards to prevent this stuff from being uploaded to begin with. I blame parents for not monitoring what their kids are doing and for not raising them right in the first place.

Years ago I wrote a post asking what happened to modesty, where I talked about how young girls were dressed while walking around at the NY State Fair, many of them with their parents. What I found when the comments came in was parents who had daughters making excuses like “you don’t know how hard it is” while anyone without daughters or children agreed with my position. That was one of those times where the statement “you don’t get to comment on parenting because you don’t have children” falls on deaf ears.

This is another one of those times. I can understand it better when people around my age don’t understand social media or the web all that well, but it’s not people in their mid 50’s who have lots of teenagers running around (some maybe but not the majority). That falls on mostly 30-somethings, people who grew up with most of the technology we deal with today, and in my opinion they should have a better understanding of social media and should be more savvy in knowing how to monitor their children’s behavior, online and off.

Yet they don’t know, and we end up hearing stories like this one where a child committed suicide because of a social media prank pulled on him by another child, and constant news stories highlighting social media bullying by children against children.

What are the parents reactions? Shock; I’m shocked! At least the parents have enough conscious to be ashamed of what their child did to another child, even while they try to put the blame on the children and the parents of those children that end up killing themselves.

Sigh… I get it; there’s a lot of mean on social media. I know we can’t do anything about the adults, but the parents should be able to be more responsible when it comes to their children.

Stop trying to be your child’s friend. Stop making them all latchkey kids. It’s not my job to raise your kids; it’s not TV’s job, it’s not radio’s job, it’s not the movies job, it’s not the teachers job… it’s your job as a parent!

If you can’t handle the job, stop having kids! If you can handle your kids but can’t learn enough social media to teach them better then remove the computer from the home, or at least kill the internet connection. Be a parent. Teach your kids compassion. Teach them ethics. Teach them to be good people.

Is that too much to ask or hope for? Someone tell me!
 

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18 comments on “Is Social Media Causing Our Children To Lose Their Compassion?

  • Mitch, it is not too much to ask, but understand this: children are not poodles to be trained. We do the best we can, with the tools we have–in lieu of the Definitive Guide to Rearing the PErfect Child–and we hope it is enough.

    Personally (and I am dead serious) I think it’s all genetics. If you spawn a psychopath, there’s likely a switched-off gene in your DNA or your partner’s.

    I don’t blame social media any more than I blame MTV, Dungeons and Dragons or multiple body piercings. It’s a part of our society, like guns and rat poison and apple pie and baseball and honeybees. Everything exists in a neutral state until someone decides to use it for good or evil.

    Cheers,

    Mitch
    Mitchell Allen recently posted…MonkeyshinesMy Profile

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    • That’s interesting Mitch. I’ve always thought that kids were meant to be trained, aka taught, so that they’d at least have a good moral code to fall back on. It doesn’t have to be hard coded and hammered in, but it definitely needs to be a foundation. I like to think my parents did a pretty good job of instilling compassion and morality into me, even while letting me go out and make some “mistakes” on my own (like climbing up the sides of buildings, though they didn’t know about that lol). I’d have never let someone die on my watch without trying to help, and I’d have never been friends with anyone who did… at least I hope not.

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  • Great post Mitch, social media has its own positive and negative sides. But children’s today should get involved in many sports activity rather than just hang on on social media. There are many activities out there to get involved which can help build personality.

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    • That’s intriguing Deepesh. I played all the sports I could (except soccer; hated that lol) but it turns out I was never all that happy while playing them (though I was pretty good). Still, they definitely need more outlets to entertain or teach them things outside of social media, and more true socialization so they can gain empathy for their fellow humans.

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  • Its absolutely a great post Mitch. Todays generation is growing up being inhuman. Somewhere parents do have a big responsibility of knowing what their children are doing. A helping mentality,kindness,love towards human being are the characteristic which towards an extent can be inculcated in the childs behaviour. Children learn from their parents or someone elder to them whom they are close to. They see and learn what we being Parents do. Hence parents need to wake up and act. Else tomorrow you will watch your children laughing at you when you are in trouble rather than helping you.

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    • Thanks Jez. That’s always been my belief. I don’t expect anyone to parent 24/7 but instilling values, checking on them from time to time and, gasp, actually engaging and having fun with their children would be nice.

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  • Luckily, my children are too old now for me to worry but the fact remains that what you paint is a frightening scenario as applicable here in India as it is over there. Young children here are as exposed to the social media as they are there and many stories of similar nature appear in our media regularly too. There however seems to be little that anyone can do about it other than the parents but they seem to be busy with other things and leave the children pretty much alone with their gadgets.
    Rummuser recently posted…Learning Never Stops.My Profile

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    • I figured it couldn’t just be an American issue Ramana. You know, my parents left me alone a lot because that’s how it was back in the 60’s and 70’s, but they taught me how to be a friend to others and how to be gracious to adults while still standing up for myself. I’d have never been bullied online, not only because I wouldn’t have cared but because someone would have gotten hurt and passed the word on (you don’t see that kind of “balance happening these days lol) if I had cared. It’s hard to imagine that, in general, our generation would have sat & watched someone die like that and ridiculed them, then posted a video online. Then again, lots of racial stuff like that did happen in this country (before social media), but that was proven to be behavior taught by parents. That’s why I believe they’re integral to the whole thing.

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  • Beverly Mahone-Gibbs says:

    Mitch,

    First of fall, great post! But my question is how do you tell parents not to have children or to teach their children ethics when THEY DON’T KNOW THEMSELVES or have any ethics or values? These children are being raised (or perhaps not) by parents who are probably caught up in their own social media world and, therefore, are paying little to no attention to what their own children are or are not doing. We are truly living in disturbing times.

    Reply
    • I was waiting for someone to say this Bev! lol You’re absolutely right, and I’ve seen this type of thing and it’s scary. I think the only way to get through to parents is to give them punishments of some kind whenever something like this happens. There are communities across the country that penalize parents for some of the transgressions of their children, though I have no idea how well they work.

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  • Oh I know, I was so upset to hear about these stories. It really makes you wonder about human nature and decency. There are so many examples of where social media has just instantly spread things and it sometimes has a major impact on people’s lives. And, you know when you’ve lived longer, you can put things in context, but when you’re a teenager and embarrassed, it’s just hard as you haven’t developed all those coping mechanisms.

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    • That’s true Lucia. Then again, there are lots of adults that haven’t developed the online coping mechanisms either, but those folks I don’t believe can be saved. Children for the most part are malleable and ready to learn lessons from their parents. We have to hope they’re capable enough to teach the right lessons… which in many cases doesn’t seem to be reality.

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  • Parents not finding enough time for their kid is heartbreaking. But somehow it makes them independent as they learn by failing. In most of the cases they find them on wrong track where they seriously need some guidance before they are lost forever. Research have shown parents who give total freedom to kids to choose what they like are more successful in their respective carrier. But yes social media are misleading but not always.

    Regards.

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    • I believe children need the freedom to learn and find themselves, while also believing that morals and ethics must be taught by the parents to their children at least have the tools to know right from wrong. There are too many stories of young people doing the wrong thing either because of social media or eventually posting on social media… what kind of morality can someone be taught that allows them to either taunt someone who’s on the verge of dying or watching and then sharing rape videos? I’m missing it…

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    • I can’t disagree with this. Parents must do a better job of teaching their kids. Social media makes things so easy for kids to show both their stupidity and what their parents haven’t taught them.

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  • Oh, it`s awful, I feel pity. But the teenagers are the most dangerous part of the society. They aren`t afraid of anything, and it`s the main reason why they cannot stop. It`s clear that everything begins in the family. So, I totally agree with the author: PARENTS!!! Or earn money and don`t have the children or educate them in a correct way! Thanks for talking to this problem.

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    • It’s too bad there’s not a test for parents lol I think you have a great point about teenagers being dangerous because the overall behavior doesn’t have anything to do with class, status, or racial makeup.

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