Nearly every day, there is another story in the news of someone who has been harassed, bullied, or shamed on the internet—and the results of this online hate can be devastating. Sue Scheff, a parent advocate and internet safety expert, and Melissa Schorr, a journalist and young-adult author, tackle the digital epidemic of cyber-shaming in Shame Nation.
The stories of cyber harassment presented in Shame Nation are harrowing and often familiar. They include mean mom groups, parent and teacher shaming, sexting scandals. The authors demonstrate that no one is immune to the reach of the internet. A single tweet or Facebook post can change, or even ruin, someone’s life.
It’s no secret that sometimes social media causes stress in teenagers. However, studies show that social media causes the most distress to middle school social media users. According to a study commissioned by CNN called Being Thirteen, “Forty-two percent reported having a serious conflict with someone online at least monthly,” says Robert Faris, Ph.D., a sociologist at the University of California Davis. Faris, who worked with CNN on the study says, “The majority of them said it was with friends. And we’re not talking about Facebook friends. We’re talking about close friends.”
For parents who grew up before social media was even a thing, directing teens in their social media use can be confusing and frustrating. The book offers plenty of advice and tips on managing social media. The authors provide guidelines on what to share and what to keep private. They also give advice on dealing with trolls and how to recover from being cyber-shamed. Scheff and Schorr shine a much-needed light on the issues that teens, as well as adults, have to consider every time they log on.
Shame Nation is a terrific parenting resource, one that combines real-life cautionary tales with practical solutions for every scenario. This is a must-read in the digital age for anyone who has an internet presence, especially as teens are generally more vulnerable to cyber shaming.
Kristina Wright is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Your Teen.