Is that a fact?

With the highly publicized Johnny Depp case that took place a month or so ago, everyone’s an expert on defamation suddenly. If you somehow missed the happenings or could care less about celebrity drama, let me give you a brief breakdown of what exactly defamation is.  

Defamation is when a person makes a false statement of fact to a person other than the one the lie is being told about, which in turn causes harm to the reputation of that person and consequently causes others to change their opinion on the person, which may result in the community or a group not wanting to have dealings with the accused in the future.  

You’re probably wondering what in the world does this have to do with my children, or children in general. Well, here is your answer. Since getting back into writing and reporting, I have had multiple parents reach out to me regarding their children experiencing defamation and bullying.  

In one case a student created a fake Facebook account impersonating another student. The profile included pictures of the young man that were edited in a very unflattering way. They went as far as adding fellow peers, teachers and parents in the community to the growing friends’ list, while making racial, graphic and offensive posts and comments. All the while the ones who were added to befriend this page were under the impression that this is a real profile, and this particular student is actually the one making these types of comments.  

You hear about extreme cases across the country where young children are experiencing these types of things and taking their own lives because of it. It may be a hard pill to swallow, but it is not only happening in our neighboring states. It is happening right under our noses. It is happening in our communities and in our schools. Our children could just as easily be the ones doing the bullying or being on the receiving end of it.  

With ever growing technology and social media platforms being more popular than ever before, online bullying is at an all-time high. That is exactly the reason I struggled as a parent with the decision to get my oldest a phone this year. She is involved in so many extracurricular activities and always on the go. The convenience (and GPS tracking) led me to make the decision to allow her to have one. I monitor everything she does, who she talks to and calls. I have to manually approve every app she downloads.  

The other day, I got a notification on my phone that she is asking permission to download Instagram. Denied. She came to me almost immediately to plead her case. “So and so in my class has Instagram. So and so’s parents let her have Tik Tok.” Still hard pass.  

When she is finally old enough, mature enough and responsible enough to have a social media account it will be accompanied by a lengthy conversation about the repercussions if she were to ever abuse that privilege.  

For as long as I can remember my parents and teachers have preached anything and everything that is posted online is permanent and can always be traced back to you, whether it be a text, a Facebook post or an anonymous and fake email.  

The last thing we want to be dealing with when she is running for president is a defamation case over an incident that took place when she was in junior high because eventually it always comes back to bite you.  

(Paige Nash is a mom and digital journalist for The Webster Parish Journal.)

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