I get to see a lot of teen’s Facebook pages, either because they are my friends, because their parents want me to safety-ify them or because teen’s themselves ask me a question. Parents always ask me what I see, and it’s not bad pictures, it’s not cyberbullying or strangers writing on their walls, what worries me is cussing.
There is cussing all over Facebook and the online teen world—walls, chats, IM’s, messages everywhere and it seems to be totally unrelated…a random F bomb thrown in here and there, very much like LOL is thrown around.
Why Do We See So Many Cursing Kids?
I held a forum on my teen network on this, here are the responses I got:
-It feels cool.
-It is a conversation filler, when you do not have something to say, you can cuss.
-It feels older.
-It is a little dangerous.
Ok, so that is nothing new, but there are some new trends and mediums for cussing (see online cussing and semi-cursing below).
How to Stop Cursing Children, Kids and Teens
1) NEVER do it yourself
I was not going to put this one, because I thought it was obvious, but I hear a lot of parents curse at the TV or when they bang their knee and then turn to their kids and say “don’t every say that.” Nope, doesn’t work. Kid’s should listen to that, because you are the adult, but when they hear you do it, it feels ok to them.
2) Stop the semi-curse words
Cursing starts young at the semi-curse words. What are semi-curse words?
When you here these, start early, express that there has to be a better way to express what they are trying to say.
3) The written word
I think having a casual conversation (especially with kids) about how written cursing is almost worse than out loud cussing. You can explain whether it is written on a passed note in class, in an email, or on a notebook, you never know who sees it and what they will think of you.
4) Online cussing makes permanent cussing
Another conversation to have is that the online world is not a good place to do it. Just because you think there are not teachers or parents listening, you never know which parents of friends check their pages. I cannot tell you how many parents have told me they go on their kids Facebook pages and are horrified at the behavior of their kid’s friends revolving around curse words on messages, chats and wall posts. You never know who will see it. I also tell kids that colleges, bosses and teachers do look at Facebook pages and swearing like a sailor does not help your application.
5) Role models
Unfortunately, once kids get to a certain age, there is only so much you can admonish cursing. Talking to someone they look up to, a coach, a teacher, a cousin and having them talk to your kids about cussing and reputations is way more valuable than you saying something.
6) Say sorry with grace
Many parents also do not talk to their kids about what happens if they do curse at an inappropriate time or a teacher or friend’s mom sees a foul wall comment. Often times when it happens they turn read and giggle or say it did not happen. We all have been in the situation where you hurt your knee and scream “f***” or something worse. I apologize, admit the error and fess up to the inappropriate outburst. This is a maturity that kids must learn, because we all make mistakes.
Cursing is not a huge parenting issue, but it something that is drastically effecting kid’s resumes, online reputations and perception of friends. I think it is a casual talk worth having. Would love your comments!