Intention vs. Consequence: What Kids Don’t Understand

In the world of digital parenting, three words help adults understand how a child’s digital activities get out of hand. Using these words — magnification, intention, and consequence — in parent-child conversations can, over time, help everyone understand more about why digital problems occur.

  • Magnification – If digital media is involved, mistakes, even those made by well-behaved and thoughtful kids, loom large and quickly become public. The magnification of a seemingly small problem often leads to embarrassment or even humiliation for everyone involved. In the digital world, private mistakes can evolve into magnified public ones.
  • Intention – While the world of pre-adolescents and adolescents can be rough and tumble on any day, unintended reactions to their digital activities often surprise kids. Most often a problem involves one student communicating with another, and if the initiator had only taken even moment to think over an impulsive action, the incident might not have occurred.
  • Consequence – If a digital problem becomes too public, too magnified, and too hurtful, consequences matter much more than anything a child intended to happen. From a young age we teach children to say they are sorry when something goes wrong, but in the digital world the degree of hurt and humiliation may mean that an apology is only the beginning of the recovery process.

Most adults remember a time when behavioral mistakes were more private. Rarely were our errors, even the big ones, known by more than a few people. The mechanisms for passing information from place to place, for broadcasting a problem to the world, were minimal. Times have changed.

This video below — Stop Think Connect — is a helpful resources for families with children in grades 4 – 7.


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