When Kids Make Mistakes Online: A Story of Social Media Frenemies


During the elementary school years, most kids are very aware of technology but still quite naïve about all of the hurtful ways in which it can be used. Well into their adolescence even, many kids remain oblivious to the legal consequences of their online actions. This real-life example of innocence-gone-awry by way of technology underscores that one of the most important things adults can do to bring an end to cyberbullying is to teach young kids about the risks of their online behavior and to give them skills to protect themselves from lasting harm.

For the full article, please click here or paste this link into your browser:


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4 Essential Strategies for Stopping Bullying in Classrooms and Schools


Classroom teachers have everything to do with stopping bullying. There. I said it. I often hesitate to make this assertion so plainly when speaking to educators, fearing my next move will have to be fending off rotten tomatoes lobbed at my head by teachers who won’t stand for having yet another responsibility heaped onto their already-overflowing plates.


If the spoiled fruit ever were to be thrown my way, I would understand the sentiment, but the fact that they never are is a true testament to the tremendous job that most classroom teachers willingly take on every day of the school year. The teachers who are making a difference in the movement to stop bullying are engaged role models of kindness and expert masters of diplomacy. They are true champions of the underdog and astute shapers of peer culture. They are not afraid to be direct and to confront bullying behavior whenever they see it. These teachers are improving the lives of young people each and every day and demonstrating that time spent on bullying prevention is time saved on conflict, alienation, academic struggles, and victimization. What follows are four strategies for stopping bullying that effective teachers share in common:


Click here to read my article on the HuffingtonPost that explains four strategies effective teachers use to stop bullying in their classrooms and schools:


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New Book Announcement: 8 Keys to End Bullying


I’m super-excited to share with you the cover of my new book, due out in the Spring of 2014, via Norton Publishers. The best part (aside from hoping to help lots of teachers, counselors, and kids, of course) is no more waking up at 5am to sneak in some quiet writing hours! Cheers to sleeping in for the rest of the Summer!!


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Do You Know the Cyberlingo?


Thanks again to all those who attended my “Friendship & Other Weapons” webinar training, via Reclaiming Youth International.  Here are the answers to the Cyberlingo Quiz:


•LOL: Laugh out loud
•BFF: Best friend forever
•JK: Just kidding
•TTYL: Talk to you later
•OMG: Oh my gosh
•BRB: Be right back
•ROTFLMAO: Rolling on the floor, laughing my ass off
•ATM: At the mall
•RA: Really annoying
•LMIRL: Let’s meet in real life
•AITR: Adult(s) in the room
•MOS: Mother over shoulder
•Code 9: Parents are around
•TAW: Teachers are watching
Keep in mind: these acronyms change all of the time.  The challenge for adults is to stay current. 

E-mail Contracts for Kids


A friend of mine from graduate school and I were just lamenting over the fact that our daughters are asking to have e-mail accounts.  Well, actually, we were marveling at how time has flown and that our kids are at this age already.  Ok, truthfully, we were feeling sorry for ourselves about how old we must be to have tween-age kids, but I digress…

She and I are both concerned about setting guidelines for our girls as they take big steps into the world of technology social media.  Here are the sets of guidelines she and I each pieced together from our own wisdom and bits of advice on the web.  I like hers better…she liked mine…together, perhaps we have a whole parent’s brain.  You can feel free to pick and choose from either.  Hopefully, you can find the suggestions helpful:


1. Always be kind, and do not ever use email to say ugly, nasty, or mean things about ANYONE. Not only is that not behavior not acceptable, but email can always be forwarded to someone & hurt their feelings.

2. If you don’t recognize an address in your inbox, or someone sends you a weird email, don’t touch the email & come get me or Daddy.

3. No opening attachments or clicking on links without approval.

4. Daddy and I can and will access your emails at any time. You must give us your password(s) if you change them.

5. The only computers you are allowed to access your email from is mine or Daddy’s (and Grandma’s). If you access Gmail from school, you would have to be responsible enough to “SIGN OUT” so that the next person can’t access your email. Many grown-ups can’t even remember to do this, so I’m not going to ask you to. So, no accessing emails from school until I believe you’re responsible enough to do this.

6. NEVER click the “remember me” or “remember this password?” if you do access your email from another computer (against my rules). This will allow that computer to ALWAYS remember your password without the person sitting there to even think about it.

7. Never send to anyone in an email the following: your real address, phone number, any passwords, our cell phone numbers, your birthday/date, social security number or any other identifying information–not even to someone you know. This will cause you BIG, BIG problems or put you in DANGER from people who want to harm children.

8. Don’t use “Reply all.” Many grown-ups don’t even understand how to use this properly.

9. If someone emails you telling you you won something: you didn’t. Come get one of us.

10. Don’t go into the “Spam” folder – that’s not a place for children, and I’m trusting you enough to follow this rule (and the others). If you think an email you want may have mistakenly found its way in there, ask one of us to look in there for you.

11. You are not allowed to use Google+ without our permission. That is something you can earn with good behavior and when you’re a little older.





We believe our family values include kindness, honesty, and compassion for others.  Our use of technology must reflect these values.  Therefore, we recognize that having an email address, texting, using a YouTube account, and any other uses of technology must follow these rules:


  1.  Communication (sending e-mails, commenting on videos, sending texts, etc) is for the purpose of friendship and exchange of ideas or information.  It is never for spreading gossip, making rude comments, using bad language, or giving out personal information to people we don’t know.


  1. Technology can never be used for the purposes of humiliating, embarrassing, getting revenge upon, or hurting others in any way.


  1. Sending or uploading photos and videos with any personally identifying images or information are not permitted unless specially approved by Mommy or Daddy.


  1. Mommy and Daddy must always have access to the passwords and content for all of your technology accounts.


  1. Mommy and Daddy reserve the right to insist that particular sites and friends who behave in violation of our values be banned or blocked.


  1. No emails, texts, YouTube comments, etc after 9:00pm (school year) and 9:30pm (summer).


If these rules are not followed, the following will occur:

First violation:  All technology privileges ended for 7 days.

Second violation:  All technology privileges ended for 14 days.

Third violation:  All technology privileges ended indefinitely.


While we understand that anyone can make a mistake, we believe that living according to our values is critically important.



_________________________________        _________________________________

Child                                                                                      Parent




For more information and suggestions for teaching kids about ethical uses of technology and social media, please check out my post on Psychology Today, Teaching Netiquette to Kids.

What to Do When a Fake Facebook Page is Created About You


This article from the Cyberbullying Research Center provides great, detailed information and instructions for kids (and their parents!) on what to do if a fake Facebook profile is created about them.  Check it out!



Highlights from an Interview with Trudy Ludwig


Check out these great excerpts from a recent interview about bullying with bestselling children’s author, Trudy Ludwig.  She is the author of My Secret Bully, which I recommend most highly and center one of my chapters around in Friendship & Other Weapons.


I especially love the definitions of rude vs. mean vs. bullying and her highlighting of issues such as the power of allies and the importance of restorative justice.

What Parents Can Do About Cyberbullying


A good friend just let me know that last week, this article that I wrote for the Huffington Post was featured on AOL’s home page–very exciting!  I hope it provides some helpful tips and strategies for parents, as they help a very tech-savvy generation become bully-savvy as well.  Here’s an excerpt:


At not-quite-nine, I am still amazed everyday at how natural and intuitive technology usage is to my daughter and to all of her peers who have grown up with computers, cell phones, tablets and texting as part of their everyday lives. I am also aware, however, that things like Internet Safety, Cyberbullying and “Netiquette” may not register on her radar the same way they do on mine.

When she was very young, I worried about the unknown: online predators who could try to trick her into revealing personal information so that they could cause her physical harm. Now, in her tween years, I know that “stranger danger” is still a threat, but I spend more of my time worrying about the known: frenemies from her daily life who may use taunting texts, humiliating social media posts and viral videos to cause her emotional harm. It’s no wonder that when she begs me (at least once daily) for a cell phone, I feel chills run up and down my spine.

No matter how tech-savvy my daughter becomes, I am constantly aware that she is young and that it is up to me to monitor her safety and well-being with technology in the same consistent, diligent way that I ensure her well-being on a playground. These basic rules are our first line of defense in minimizing (I’m too wise to think that “preventing” is realistic) cyberbullying and using technology in safe, respectful ways:


To read about the six strategies I suggest to parents, please visit the HuffingtonPost or click this link:

Talking about Bullying on the Kathleen Dunn Show


This morning, I had the great opportunity to join Public Radio host, Kathleen Dunn, and US Dept. of Education representative, Deborah Tempkin for an hour to talk about what parents, schools, and peers can do to stop bullying and cyber-bullying.   While I much prefer being a writer…and being able to liberally revise my responses until I find just the right words…I did love the interaction with Kathleen and Deborah and with the callers who phoned, emailed, and tweeted their questions to the show.  It was a lively discussion, sparked by the recent bullying-related suicide of a young man from Sioux City, Iowa. 


Have a listen:


The one thing I’ve been kicking myself about all day is my response to the two callers who talked about physical retaliations as being the best answer to the problem of bullying.  I found myself a little tongue-tied during both conversations.  The point I wanted to make–and that I do make when I have the luxury of writing on the subject instead of answering on-air–is that while physical retaliations may seem to solve the problem in the moment, they are not the mark of a civilized society and are never the kind of skill that best serve children in the long-term.   I do believe with all of my heart that children need skills to know how to stand up for themselves, but never do I believe that revenge–particularly physical aggression–is an advisable response. Helps Parents and Kids Cope with Bullying

437–and its predecessor–are terrific resources for kids and teens everywhere! Please check out how they are helping parents and kids cope with bullying.

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