A Popular Front

In the young adult novel Populatti by Stamford author Jackie Bardenwerper, we meet high-schooler Livi Stanley, who believes she won the social lottery when she’s accepted into populatti.com, a site where members are voted in (and out). When online rumors about Livi threaten her “popster” status, she finds her voice, but not before becoming a target of cyberbullying. “I really wanted to take a look at the more subtle types of bullying that often occur in high school,” says the author, a mother of one. “While we hear about the most serious incidents, a lot of bullying often goes unreported, especially when it originates from one’s friends.”

Because the book explores how social media has changed the landscape of high-school bullying, we asked Jackie to share ideas on how parents can begin the conversation:

5 ways to help kids navigate social media

1. Create a social media policy with your teen, whether it’s limiting time spent on sites, agreeing to parent-monitored profile pages, or avoiding certain sites altogether.

2. Begin the talk before the teen years. Help kids understand the permanence of what is posted online, and how online anonymity can make bullying easier and more painful.

3. Teach kids that you are there to help, not judge, if a difficult situation ever arises.

4. Work to create an open dialogue with your teen about all facets of their lives, not just their online profiles.

5. Encourage participation in sports, clubs and other extracurriculars that can help teens build confidence and relationships based on more than social status.

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