Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Social skills online

For a long time, Cuddlebug and Bearhug kept asking me to sign them up for "Hatena ID's." Their Nintendo DS's came with a game called "Flipnote Studio" in which you can make your own flipnote animations.

Remember when you were a kid and would see those drawings on the edge of a page, and if you flipped the pages fast enough, it would look like an animated drawing? It's like that, only electronic.

The boys had made all kinds of flipnotes, and wanted to be able to share them on the Hatena website.

The thought of them interacting in an online community like that (granted, it's mostly kids, but it could be anyone!) made me really nervous. When I finally checked it out and we agreed to sign them up, we laid out a series of ground rules.

They are not to use their real names, location, or any other personal information in anything they post. They know that doing so will mean we will no longer let them use the website, for an indeterminate amount of time (probably forEVER).

Any comments on their flipnotes, "fan" adds or anything like that sends a notification to my email address, so I can monitor how others are interacting with them.

Unfortunately, I don't know of a way to track comments that THEY leave for others without just clicking on all of them individually.

But one day I saw an email with a rather unfriendly comment to Cuddlebug and went searching to see what that was all about.

Turns out Cuddlebug had posted a rude comment to someone, which I could tell stemmed from his not understanding something they'd posted and getting offended by it. Sigh. Of course they would have no way of knowing that, but even so it's no excuse because he KNOWS better than to say mean things like that to anyone.

As far as I could tell, the user in question is a girl, probably a teenager or maybe pre-teen. Of course when Cuddlebug posted his rude comment, her friends all jumped in to her defense. One of them even posted (to him) "your comment looks like it was written by a 3rd grader!" (groan). Well, just a few short months ago, he WAS a 3rd grader... Cuddlebug is a master arguer, so he just kept on going too.

I marched upstairs to have a little talk with him about not being rude to other people online, even if they post things that we may not like (especially since it was clear that he had been the one to instigate the "rude comments." I told him he needed to apologize to her.

Well, she managed to block him before he could leave her an apology note.

Honestly, I was glad she chose to block him instead of asking all her friends to start spamming him with mean comments in return (I've seen enough online spats, even among adults, to know how they often turn out).

The next day, he sadly told me that hadn't been able to apologize to her because she blocked him.

Well, apparently a few weeks later he came up with another solution (and I was impressed that he was actually still thinking about it).

He posted a flipnote addressed to her with his apology and a cute animation that he made.

What's more, she actually saw it and posted a kind comment in return (and she unblocked him, which made him happy).

He learned something through that experience, about being kind to others, about apologizing when we hurt someone, even if it was unintentional, and about the peace that comes from making amends. I'm proud of him (and thankful for the girl who took the time to let him know all was forgiven). :)

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Anonymous said...

i'm glad it turned out well in the end!! (what a sweet boy for thinking of a way to apologize!!!)


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I'm a mom of three boys on the autism spectrum, 11-yr-old identical twins and a 7-yr-old. My husband is a SAHD.


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