How to Teach Your Kids to Avoid Digital Drama

Written By Syreeta Martin

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When it comes to drama, the lives and texting talents of youth in the 21st century could arguably give Shakespeare a run for his money. (That’s IF you know how to decode what they’re actually saying.)

Technology has enabled drama to start, and fester, without words ever being spoken, and long before your tween or teen may even realize they’ve become a part of it. Whether it’s via text messages, online posts or comments, drama has become a plot twist in kids’ everyday life. Dr. Tim Jordan, the author of Sleeping Beauties, Awakened Women: Guiding the Transformation of Adolescent Girls notes below how girls specifically can tackle digital drama.

Girls need to learn skills to handle and prevent drama and gossiping offline first so that they can show you they will be able to deal with it online as well. If they are embroiled in drama at school, they probably don’t have the maturity, impulse control, and social-emotional skills to handle social media. - Dr. Tim Jordan, Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrician

As a parent or guardian, this can be difficult to prevent or the very least, stay “in the know” about. How do you monitor the things that go unsaid—the multitude of conversations that your child has digitally? The recipe of avoiding digital drama is comprised of:

  • ¼ part knowing your child—the great, the good, and the blank-stare-worthy
  • ¼ part conversing offline about personal digital conduct and standards
  • ¼ part of accepting that you can’t live for them and remaining non-judgmental
  • ¼ strategic monitoring and asking the 5 W’s, 1 H and 1 S

Let’s examine each ingredient a little more closely and explore some questions that will hopefully enable you to better empower your kids to effectively avoid drama.

Knowing Your Child—the Great, the Good, and the Blank-Stare-Worthy

For many parents, there’s the reality of who your child is and who you believe your child to be. This is an opportune time to take off any rose-colored lenses and see them for the human being—not just your human being—that they are. With that said, it’s important to figure out how the mini-you-but-not-you handles drama “in-real-life”.

The better you know your child—and I mean the child that emerges when you’re not around—the better you can show them how to protect themselves, and others.

Chat Offline About Social Media Etiquette

Your best bet is to position yourself with open communication when it comes to their digital conduct and personal standards. Don’t play yourself here by applying dated parenting approaches to 21st century youth conundrums.

With that said, you may want to follow some of these points:

  • Before you tell them the do’s and don'ts of social media, find out what boundaries or limits they set for themselves, then fill in some perspective that they could benefit from.
  • Share your expectations by way of concern and fold in examples from mainstream news (entertainment or otherwise) that they may more readily relate to.
  • Agree on best practices for the benefit of self and the family .
  • Communicate with them about behaving with kindness and reporting any cyberbullying on social media that they may encounter.

Creating a social media contract for your child is an easy way to make your expectations for social media conduct clear. And don't be afraid to seek out more resources about cyberbullying to learn yourself and share with your child.

Accept That You Can’t Live for Them

The “do as I say, not as I do” parenting style is relatively defunct in this day and age. Young people have a heightened sense of smell and the stench of hypocrisy is just as obvious to them as the fragrance of “perfection.”

In other words: you’re walking a fine line here, folks, and they can smell you from a mile away.

Unless you were born around the same time as they were, you don’t know what it’s really like to grow up in this kind of technologically-advanced and socially dynamic point in history. Everything that they do, say, wear, and feel is already being judged by people online and in real life.

Will you be a source of peace and comfort with a little positive challenge sprinkled in, or a source of added judgment, rejection and perceived negativity?

Granted, for most parents, at some point you will find yourself at odds with your mini-me, however the rate at which you bounce back and the level of transparency that they give to you is all a matter of what and who you choose to be in their life.

Move strategically and choose wisely.

Monitor Your Child's Screen Time

  • Who? What? When? Where? Why?
  • How?
  • What’s the strategy?

Exploring these questions, preferably over your child's favorite meal or activity, is the best way to work in this dash of digital drama diversion.

This will ensure that you at least know what’s going on, even if you can’t prevent or stop it.

Use a parental control app to stay updated on how your child spends their time online, which apps they use, and how much screen time they're racking up each day.   

About Syreeta Martin

Sincerely Syreeta is the mother of two daughters who remind her to Empathize, Empower, and EVOLVE every day. She is a freelance journalist, talk show host, life coach, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur based out of Philadelphia, PA.

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