Imagine for a minute that you go to work every day with the thought of being ridiculed by your coworkers because of a picture that was seen on the Internet. Or you said some-thing that was inappropriate on your "tweet" and now your boss knows about it. Sounds like a bad day either way. Good day to stay at home and hide.
Your exceptional child and other children may be facing that right now as you read this article. Each piece of technology that comes along has the potential to be a good tool when used correctly. But that little cell phone in a kid's hand has the power to change your child's life and yours with the press of a button. The Internet can help your child and you learn about things it might take weeks to research or discover. That same button can destroy a reputation, a career, or hurt your child or some other parent's child in many different ways. No one has to search very far to find a news item on the abuse or misuse of technology in these times.
GET THE PICTURE?
Everything had always happened at "the other schools", not mine. I was athletic director at another school sometime back and was faced with an ugly situation. One of our underclassmen was a baseball player that had taken a picture with his cell phone of another student in the locker room near the shower. The parents of the kid whose picture was taken were up in arms. Their son was humiliated and not willing to come to school. He was embarrassed and could not bring himself to come to class or back to baseball. Since it was a private school, they wanted the offending student thrown out and arrested. I could feel their anger and their son's angst. This was not going to be an easy fix. The student who took the picture wasn't a bad kid. Good family, good grades and extremely bright. For that one moment, he just exercised horrible judgment thinking it was funny. He was suspended from school and the team.
We thought the incident was over with the punishment. The parents and child that had been photographed had calmed down and things were back to almost normal. However, the boys on the baseball team kept harassing the offending student about "destroying the team" and other ridiculous comments. After everything finally came to an end, there were still some questions that remained. What had caused this kid's lapse in judgment? Why did the other players watch this happen and do nothing? Had the child ever talked with his parents about proper use of the cell phone? (We knew the answer to that one!) Since this was just the start of the cell phone/ camera era, what could we do to pre-vent this from happening again? The "it can't happen here" thought process that we thought was present had to go! We had to take steps to educate our teachers, students and athletes on the proper use of a cell phone and computers. As a parent, the whole educational process begins with you. Prevention is always the best course of action. Frank, honest, and open discussions with your child are an important step in the right direction. It's in your child's best interest to actually be "nosy"!
GOOD PEOPLE SOMETIMES MAKE BAD DECISIONS
This is not a column on bad judgment. However, any article for parents about youth sports and the Internet and technology should include some stories about things that can and sometimes do go wrong. Recently, there was young man who lost scholarship opportunities because of some things he had "tweeted" on his twitter account. His athletic ability had gone to his head and his statements caused two big time football powers to withdraw their scholarship offers. All those hours of training, effort, hard work and practice to get to the point of a full ride for college gone with a flick of a finger and a lapse of judgment.
We have all seen or read of incidents of parents' behavior at youth sporting events turn ugly. Not just at high school events, but right down to t-ball for seven year olds! …