Are parents helpless in the internet age?
Ultimately, you can't protect your kids from "nameless, faceless" online tormentors, says Alexis Madrigal in The Atlantic, as the father of tween video blogger Jessi Slaughter discovered
11-year-old Jessi Slaughter speaks to an internet audience.
11-year-old Jessi Slaughter speaks to an internet audience.

Any parent can identify with the father of Jessi Slaughter, a web-savvy 11-year-old girl who's achieved a certain renown among "Internet tween scenesters," says Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic. A few days ago, Jessi posted a video response to her online rivals, "a foul-mouthed piece of little girl bravado" that triggered a hostile backlash. Soon, she was being harassed both online and in real life; call girls and prank pizzas showed up at the family's front door. As Jessi sobbed into her webcam, her dad stepped in. Glaring into the camera, he shouted, "This is from her father. You bunch of lying, no-good better not write one more thing or screw with my computer again. You'll be arrested. End of conversation. FROM. HER. FATHER." (Watch the video below.) But, deep down, writes Madrigal, he must know there's no way to stop "the nameless, faceless forces" that "reduced his daughter to tears." Here, an excerpt:

In the old days, dads could handle harassment of their little girls. They'd pick up the phone line and yell at prank callers. They'd show up at schools and tell some kids to back off....

FROM. HER. FATHER. Those words used to mean something. Mostly it meant, "I'm a full-grown man and I'm willing to use physical force to stop you from hurting my kid, you punk kid." But who is the man in this video going to scare? Everyone knows his threats are empty, that he's bluffing and helpless....

What a sad portrait of parenting in this particular technological age. You can just imagine them sitting around an oak dinner table quietly a few minutes after the video and wondering, "What the hell are we going to do?"

Read the full article at The Atlantic.





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