Heartbreaker – a Like 4 a Hate!

In the online teen world the  ‘Like Button’ is synonomous with acceptance and it goes without saying that acceptance is the ultimate accolade at this age.  One of my students told me that once she has posted a picture of herself on Facebook or Instagram she finds her self addicted to checking how many ‘Likes’ she has got.  She checks her Facebook in the middle of the night, when she’s in the shower, at breakfast, on the bus, every recess – constantly.  ‘It would break my heart if I got under 100 Likes’, she said!

The Facebook ‘Like Button’ is now part of our language. If you post a picture or write a comment on Facebook a little ‘Like Button’ appears that your ‘friends’ can click. The number of clicks are recorded and a running total is kept. As well the name of the ‘Liker is also posted.

I realised I had been drawn into this culture when my 14 year old niece posted a gorgeous picture of herself on Facebook.  I admired it and clicked the little ‘Like’ button underneath it. I wanted her to know how pretty her Aunty thought she looked.  Sounds harmless doesn’t it. Over the week, the number of ‘Likes’ grew to 456.  This should be a good news story.  People being nice on Facebook!  But what if no one had ‘Liked’ her photo or worse if just her Aunty had clicked ‘Like’?  This is the silent hate of the teen world.  The ‘Like Button’ can and is being used for Hate.  Imagine the girl who posts an inappropriate photo of her ‘friend’ on Facebook and sits back and watches the ‘Likes’ build up.

In New York a reporter tells a story about her 10 year old brother.  His ‘friend’ posted his picture on Facebook followed by the comment: Click Like if you Hate Harry. By the time he got to school the next morning, 57 children in his primary school had clicked ‘Like’. How horrifying!  How does Harry come back from this?  How do his parents and school manage it?  What you may well ask is Harry or the ‘friend ‘ doing on Facebook at under 13?

There are other examples of the danger of the ‘Like Button’.  The art of thinking ahead is not a teen’s strong suit.  They will often click the ‘Like Button’ with barely a thought.  There are dozens of ‘Hate Groups’ on Facebook; Racist, homphobic, mysognist, celebrity haters – they are all out there and teens can, without thinking click the ‘Like Button’.  In doing this they leave a digital footprint for others to judge them on; particularly potential employers.

Facebook, or what ever Social Media site comes after it is here to stay. Our role as adults is to establish boundaries, create limits, teach, counsel, guide, watch over, and model.  Are you actively involved in your child’s internet life? You must be!

About Renata Rowe

Deputy Head of Campus/Head of Secondary, Ivanhoe Grammar School, Plenty Campus This blog is the School's way of helping our parents and teachers understand and experience the cyber world that their children live in. We post stories about the latest cyber safety issues, and the latest social mediums that their children and teens might be using. We believe that teaching children and teens to be good Digital Citizen from a young age will protect them and their reputations. Our parents have been delighted and have subscribed so that they can receive our updates - we post about once or twice a week. So subscribe - its easy to do, just enter your email address in the box in the top righthand corner of the home page and posts will automatically be delivered to you.
This entry was posted in Cyber Safety, cyberbullying, cybersafety, Digital Citizenship, Digital Reputation, Facebook, Internet safety, Social Media, Social Networking and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Heartbreaker – a Like 4 a Hate!

  1. Genie says:

    Magnificent web site. Plenty of useful information here.
    I am sending it to some pals ans also sharing in
    delicious. And certainly, thank you in your sweat!

  2. Hi Renata,

    I always read your column with interest and I wondered if you have heard about Kik an instant messaging app for iPods, iPads etc? A friends daughter was recently targeted by a paedophile on it and was asked to send naked photos of herself. Sadly one of her friends did send a photo and while this incident is being handled by the police it was a timely reminder to me as to how vulnerable our children are. These girls are 11 years old in Year 5.

    One issue I have with how we educate our children and students on the dangers that are out there is that we do not necessarily ever say things like ‘don’t send naked photos of yourself’ because we do not want to scare them or worry them unnecessarily. We can skirt around the issues so that we do not offend or scare children but this incident was very scary for all involved. However, the school involved has asked to kids to keep the incident quiet and although they have had the police come and chat, most of the kids at the school do not know why. I am worried that by not speaking the whole truth we may be risking the safety of the kids.

    Would be very interested in your thoughts.
    Thanks and keep up the great work
    Jane Logan

    • Renata Rowe says:

      Dear Jane,

      I am so sorry to hear about your friend’s daughter. This scenario is indeed a parents’ nightmare. I have not heard of Kik but I will definitely look into and write a post on it. The more aware parents are of what is out there the better. Thank you for the heads up on this.

      Thanks also for your thoughts re making sure our children are aware of the dangers. I am not aware of the details of the circumstances of the case you describe but wrongly or rightly, I don’t subscribe to the ‘skirt around it’ approach with Teens or Tweens at home or at school. I agree whole heartedly that, done sensitively and thoughtfully these issues need to be confronted head on. They are teachable moments not to be wasted. Children are precious but they are also innocent and can so easily be manipulated.

      Recently I was made aware of a teen who had a picture of herself naked texted around and put on Instagram. Everyone of my students were gathered together and spoken to about the sending of these types of pictures. Of course the privacy of the teen involved was protected but I said explicitly to all of them in separate sessions 12 to 18 year olds alike: ‘do not take, do not send, do not post naked or semi naked photos of yourselves’, do not view naked or semi naked photos of others and do not transmit naked or semi naked photos of others. I have an 11 year old daughter and that night I went home and discussed it with her. I asked her if she had heard of anyone doing that. She looked at me in incredulous disbelief – as if anyone would – her face said – and yet they do and it is our job as parents and educators to make sure they don’t.

      • loganberry says:

        Thanks for the reply Renata. I will also be telling my 11 year old son about the incident and making it very clear what not to do. I am sure he will have a similar reaction to your daughter! I am currently studying primary teaching and feel that these will be the most difficult of situations I may encounter. I do not think that Kik (or the like) is a bad thing however it did cross my mind that anyone can create an app and it is possible in the future that some apps will be developed as grooming tools for unsuspecting tweens and teens. Thanks again for providing such a balanced and thoughtful site.


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