• Crisis Resolution and Social Media Problems—Mighty Parenting 229 with Evan Nierman

  • crisis resolution

    It’s said that once something is on the internet, it’s there forever. Given the rise of the digital age and how intertwined the internet is in our teens’ lives, it’s not a surprise that they post things constantly—the key is that they’re not always aware of the consequences, short- and long-term, of certain comments, posted videos or shared photos on their reputations and futures. Evan Nierman makes his living in PR management and crisis resolution for clients around the world; today he’s joining Mighty Parenting podcast host Sandy Fowler to discuss how teens can fall into social media pit traps, what the legal consequences might be for seemingly innocuous actions, and how we as parents can pull our teens up before they go too far and get into serious trouble.

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    A Favorite Quote from the Show: 

    My client’s son posted an inappropriate photo of himself and he was charged with distribution of child pornography.

    High Points From Our Conversation on Social Media Problems and Crisis Resolution:

    Quote about crisis resolution

    Teens today spend a lot of time on their phones, and much of that phone time is spent browsing or using social media. Given the degree to which technology has entwined itself in our lives, that’s not surprising, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t learn how to avoid needing crisis resolution for a potential social media problem.

    Evan—father of a 15-year-old and a 12-year-old—is familiar with the struggle to get kids away from devices, but there’s more at stake than just nagging our teens to put phones away at meals and before bedtime; misuse of devices and social media can result in emotional, financial and legal repercussions depending on the severity of said misusage.

    Evan’s work is dedicated to helping good people and good organizations who find themselves in difficult, bad, or complicated circumstances. Often those circumstances come about via inaccurate or misinterpreted conclusions; whether a person posted media of themselves or somebody else posted media of them, if you aren’t given context then it’s too easy to draw your own conclusions—and given how pervasive social media is, those conclusions can spread too quickly and cause real trouble.

    Sometimes teens misuse phones, such as documenting bad behavior and then posting it for everyone to see, without thinking about the consequences—starting with how others are going to perceive them based on that media. With our own kids, we can talk to them and try to mitigate that, but it’s not just our kids we have to worry about; it’s other people documenting our kids’ behavior.

    What can we tell our kids about conscientious handling of social media?
    1. Share with care
      1. Wait to post travel/vacation pics until you’re back
      2. Think about the info you’re giving away with the pic/video and the caption
    2. Post with purpose 
      1. What am I hoping to do/show with this content?
      2. How might other people interpret this content (with or without a title/caption)?
      3. How will this content reflect on me and my reputation?

    This is not a one-time conversation. As your kids get older and make more connections, their social media presence and the likelihood of a social media problem increases. Pre-empt needing crisis resolution and talk to your kid regularly (or if their behavior os concerning you) about handling their online presence.

    It may seem to our kids that they have less to worry about with social media, given that they don’t have jobs or mortgages or professional acquaintances to be concerned with. One of Evan’s clients had a teenage son who was arrested at school for distribution of child pornography; he had posted a naked picture of himself online without considering the potential consequences. 

    Stuff gets around more quickly than you’d think. One kid shares a video with a friend and the next thing they know, all their classmates have seen it and that kid’s self-esteem and friendship circle suffers (especially during the teen years, kids’ views of themselves are heavily influenced by their peers’ opinions of them)—and then that could drive the kid to extreme actions, including substance abuse, self-harm, and suicide.

    Anything posted on the internet is out there forever—our kids really need to understand this. Even if they put something on Snapchat or Instagram, people can take screenshots or download images or capture video. Once it’s out there, it can be used against you down the line, so be careful. Nothing is temporary online.

    What do we do if our kid is caught in a social media problem?

    1. Prepare by having key resources available, even if you hope you never have to use them – have access to an attorney/crisis manager/public relations firm
    2. Have parameters set up with your teens regarding tech usage – access to their phones when necessary, maybe anti-spyware software on computers, etc.
    3. Have a general idea of where your kids are and what they’re doing and saying online

    Embrace vs. Evade

    • Evade – when something awful happens, our first instinct is fight or flight; we tend towards flight when we encounter an unknown situation
    • Embrace – we live in a society where, whether we want to or not, we have to protect our reputation and we have to engage in conversations to protect ourselves and our kids
    Many times, the problem or crisis can be solved—or at least mitigated or made easier to handle—if we go straight at it. Especially with our kids; ignoring a problem usually results in the need for crisis resolution down the line.

    Engagement – we need to have the discussions with our teens even if we’re uncomfortable; and we need to emphasize being accountable for one’s own actions.

    If your kid is involved in something that could potentially be dangerous, you owe it to your kid to be engaged and as a parent to be willing to have those tough conversations—not to ignore it and hope that it goes away. Figure out a plan and talk to your kid and engage with them and do a lot more listening than talking.

    If your kid is in a crisis, then you need to step up, be proactive and engage with the crisis:

    • Talk to other people to manage then online footprint; if necessary, request things be removed.
    • You can hire someone who’s an expert in online reputation management to help you mitigate your kids’ online media (photos, videos, etc.) from their situation as much as possible.
    • Create new content that reflects the entire person, not just the awkward or bad moments that were captured and posted.
    • If your kid created the crisis or hurt somebody else, then they need to engage with that person, apologize and try to make amends.
    • People are not infallible; everyone makes mistakes. What’s important is for our kids to learn accountability—to claim responsibility for those mistakes and also in making amends to those they’ve hurt; to learn, grow, and show empathy.

    It’s not always about catching our kids doing things wrong and correcting them. We should be catching our kids doing things right, and rewarding them and praising them when they do things that make us proud. 


    Teens And Social Media: How To Protect Your Teenager Online | Mandy Majors | Episode 70

    What Every Parent Needs To Know About Kids Getting In Trouble With The Law | Elvin Gonzalez | Episode 83

    Should You Limit Screen Time or Do This Instead—Mighty Parenting 211 with Tiffany Shlain

    Evan’s Tedx Talk

    Our Guest Evan Nierman:

    Evan Nierman discusses crisis resolution

    Evan Nierman is Founder and CEO of Red Banyan, an international crisis management and public relations firm. Evan and his team have provided counsel to a diverse group of celebrity, political, corporate and private clients, helping them navigate high-stakes situations to achieve optimal outcomes. He is also author of the best-selling book Crisis Averted: PR Strategies to Protect Your Reputation and the Bottom Line.

    To learn more or connect with our guest visit https://redbanyan.com/.

    Our Sponsor: 

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