If you have teenagers or children who are on Facebook, you may have heard about a new trend called “Hot or Not”. This is where children and teenagers ask their Facebook friends to like their status which would say something on the lines of “Do you want to be in our hot or not video? Like this status and I will upload a video soon”. The person will then make a video and rate each person who has liked their status as either Hot or Not.

On the surface this may seem like an innocent way of peers connecting with each other but it’s worth asking whether this could be another form of cyberbullying? At Family Lives, we constantly hear about how young people are exposed to cyberbullying and how fast nasty comments can go viral and affect victims. Consider what a “Not” rating alone could do to a child’s self-confidence, even before the humiliation and distress caused by the very public nature of the trend. At Family Lives we believe this new trend is a form of bullying and that it should be stopped.

If your child uses Facebook or another social networking site, it is important to talk to them about this new Hot or Not trend. Discuss with them how a person might feel if they were to publish on their social networking site that a person is hot or not. How might that person feel if others were to jump on board and continue the bullying? It is important to talk to your child about the feelings of the person being depicted as negative.

Help your child to understand how this could spiral out of control, causing anxiety and other issues.  What may have started out as an innocent game on these sites could quickly lead to profoundly distressing consequences in a young person’s life. Communication can be key here as many youngsters and teenagers may not have considered the flip side of the coin. Asking your child how they might feel if they were on the receiving end of a “not” rating could help them to better understand the serious impact of this behaviour.

We encourage parents to be vigilant and take a look at their child’s Facebook page. If  your child has posted or been involved in this Hot or Not trend, it is important to take some time out and discuss it in a calm environment.

Cyberbullying can take shape in many forms and new trends will continue to surface as technology grows. It is apparent that the fine line between adulthood and childhood is blurred on these social networking sites as there is no way of filtering or blocking what is considered inappropriate. That is why it is important to “friend” your child on Facebook or the other sites and be vigilant on what is happening on their pages.