Recently, I learned that one of the players on my hockey team was Tweeting negative statements about another player. He claims he though that only the other player could see it. We discussed the situation with him, told him it was unacceptable, and asked him to remove the Tweets and apologize to the team. He started out by saying to his teammates, "I was told I need to apologize for Tweeting," and then promptly quit. Wow, talk about lack of sincerity or honesty. The incident offered several "teachable moments", which we will take advantage of as we work through this issue.
A friend recently told me of the Tweets and email/Facebook messages his 17-year-old daughter gets from kids on a daily basis. She actually shows them to her dad. The mean-spirited and personal attacks were remarkable. Fortunately, his daughter has a great self- image and laughs them off. Or does she?
These are just examples of what our kids are dealing with every day. Certainly, some of it is part of the normal interaction of teen age kids seeking power, recognition and acceptance, but to put messages out for the whole world to see is really a bad idea and quite destructive. I advise our players to only put out comments that you would be willing to say face-to-face. If not, do not do it.
Parents and coaches need to talk with their kids about these issues and even ask permission to look at their kids' Facebook pages and text/email/Tweets on their smart phones. Adults need to have an open discussion with their kids about these issues, if only for the selfish reason of protecting their own kids.
What has your experience been with cyberbullying? I would love to hear from you.