How Uncivil Adults’ Online Behavior Can Hurt Kids

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Street art of teenager looking at cell phone
October is Bullying Prevention Month, and a UTD researcher says it’s OK to disagree with people, but it’s important that children learn how to do so respectfully.
Young people looking for role models on how to behave – especially on social media – can easily get the wrong message, said Dr. Nadine Connell, associate professor of criminology. Disrespectful interactions among adults online can lead kids and teens to think it is acceptable behavior to imitate, she said.
“Kids are seeing a greater spectrum of behaviors that appear to be appropriate, especially when it comes to social media,” Connell said. “It would be silly to presume that students and young people don’t notice that and don’t act accordingly.”
Connell offered tips for parents:

  • Counter rude behavior by modeling kindness and demonstrating respect for others.
  • Learn about your child’s social life and help them navigate the complexities of online interaction.
  • Watch for signs that your child’s online behavior is having a negative impact on their well-being.
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