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What Consequences Should I Give My Teenager for Using Bad Language on Facebook?

by Anna Green, studioD

Teenagers often emulate the language they hear on television and from their peers, explains developmental psychologist Marilyn Price-Mitchell in "Psychology Today." Although it is developmentally normal for teens to mimic what they hear and read, using this language on Facebook can harm their reputation and hurt others’ feelings. If you notice that your teen is using bad language on Facebook, addressing this behavior can help your teenager learn appropriate communication skills and deter future use of such bad language.

Explain Your Expectations

Although lecturing teenagers is rarely effective, it is important for you to explain to your teenager why she is being punished for using bad language on Facebook. This is a particularly important lesson if she has friends who often use profanity or talk about age-inappropriate topics online. Use specific examples of how bad language can make her look bad to teachers, friends and prospective employers. Most importantly, make sure she knows what type of language you expect from her in the future. Spell out expectations and consequences ahead of time for the most effectiveness. Teens and their parents must know what behavior is expected and what consequences will follow if the rules are broken, explains Family Education.

Facebook Monitoring

One possible punishment for using bad language on Facebook is to monitor your child's posts to ensure that she is writing only appropriate status updates and comments. Although your teenager may view this as an invasion of her privacy, remind her that inappropriate behaviors have consequences and that she must regain your trust before you give her unrestricted posting privileges again. If you choose to monitor your teen’s Facebook as a consequence for her inappropriate language, use positive reinforcement to confirm the types of postings that are appropriate and praise her efforts when she shows good online etiquette.

Removal of Social Media Privileges

If your child repeatedly uses bad language on Facebook or engages in cyber-bullying, removing your teenager’s Facebook privileges either temporarily or indefinitely might be an appropriate punishment. When taking away Facebook from your teenager, you may be able to encourage positive behavior in the future by allowing him the means to regain his Facebook privileges. You could stipulate that if your teen is able to use appropriate language and behavior at home, school and in social settings for one month, he can begin to use Facebook again.

Natural Consequences

In some situations, it might be best to let your child experience the natural consequences of using bad language on Facebook. If your teenager curses at her friend on Facebook and then her friend refuses to talk to her, this is a natural consequence of your child’s behavior -- one that might cause her to think twice about using such language again in the future. Likewise, if your child uses inappropriate language on a school-sponsored Facebook page and is suspended from school, this consequence might be adequate to deter him from using bad language on Facebook again.

About the Author

Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.

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