Connecting moms in Polk County, Fla.
Weekly Parenting Column by Jodie Lynn
My 14-year-old daughter is posting pictures of herself online asking strangers to rate her looks. Some of her friends are doing this as well. Some of the comments are good but there are certainly harsh ones as well. What is going on with this and how is the best way to monitor it? They think it's some kind of a game.
Our 15-year-old son's profile and a couple of pictures were randomly discovered by his uncle. Most of the comments were positive, but a few were not. However, the more we tried to talk to him, the more he would withdraw. Finally, I talked with some of the other moms and one of them said they had found out that their 16-year-old daughter was doing the same thing. They decided to allow her to continue with her plan due in large part to it being an experiment for a class. But we didn't know how to handle our situation. After talking to the school counselor, we told our son that if he was going to do it, due to his age and trying to protect him from predators, he would need to share the comments each week with us. To our surprise, he went along with it. It was only a short time later that he ended up deleting everything. We were lucky when he decided that it was silly to allow total strangers to rate pictures of him when they didn't know anything about him. Talk to your daughter and try to monitor the things she publicly displays. Hopefully, soon she will see that it isn't something positive and she should work on whatever bothers her with the help of family and friends, or maybe even a professional. - T. N. Austin, TX
Basically, this is a way for people to potentially get a self-esteem boost that could end up wrecking what self-confidence they already have. Many of these sites are anonymous but people in your child's life can find out about her involvement and use it to tease or bully her. Personally, I don't think it is healthy to be sharing personal information on the Internet in this way, especially since your daughter is as young as she is. She may not have the emotional capability to withstand, understand and read between the lines of various posts or recognize clear and present danger. Since school is already out, you may have to approach her doctor or seek a professional counselor to help her understand the reason she feels the need to do this. It's certainly not a game and should be taken seriously and monitored carefully.
CAN YOU HELP?
My son is ten and I just had a baby girl. What is the best way to help him understand that he is still important and greatly loved but that his new little sister needs more attention? He seems very jealous and I just don't know how to help him adjust to the amount of time she requires.
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