Gossip and rumors move a little differently today than they did when I was in middle school and high school. It might take a rumor a couple of days to circulate throughout the school, and gossip lasted a while. When the subject of a rumor got home, they were largely insulated from the effects of that gossip (albeit the emotional effects). Over time, the gossip is seemingly largely forgotten from the collective conscience (albeit the object of the rumors).

In our world today, a rumor (with the help of technology, i.e. text messages, facebook, etc) or gossip takes seconds. And when a person who is the subject of the gossip goes home, they are confronted with that same progressively nastier gossip in their online life. To compound the problem, these rumors, or viscous attacks are not forgotten by the collective conscience. It is cemented in an online blog or facebook page.

No doubt, being a teenager today presents unique challenges that their parents or well-intentioned adults just don’t understand. As a adult myself, when I hear students share about being the subject of a viscous rumor or gossip, my instinctive response is: “Don’t worry about it; it will pass.” But in reality, while it does eventually pass, it takes a lot longer to pass and the “old” insulation doesn’t occur.

What does parenting look like in this newer reality? How do we “understand” when we don’t understand?

Cyber Bullying Resources:

Thanks for the resources, Randy!