Sue Scheff: Gossip is health - Teach your kids to be nice both online and off

Gossip.  At first glance the word may reflect ugliness of rumors and hurtful words towards another person or incident.  However gossip can also be a way to build relationships when you aren't being malicious about it.

Teens love to gossip too.  Gossip can seem like fun until you are its target. There’s something enjoyable about talking about other people among your friends, but when you are the one being talked about, it’s not easy.
Part of growing up and maturity is learning empathy, an understanding of how your actions and words make others feel. It’s not easy to stand up to gossips in your social group, but you might be able to change the subject or make a joke about the person spreading the rumor to break the cycle.

If you’re the one spreading rumors about other people, take some time to think about how your actions make those people feel. It can be funny to see how people react to the stories you tell about them, but laughter at the expense of another person isn’t right. Teens need to be mindful of other teens feelings.

Although someone may be laughing with you, they can be hurting inside. It is an emotional scar that can stay with them for years. Like bullying, gossip can have a very negative side effect.

Keep your chatting clean, both online and off. There is nothing wrong with having a good laugh, hanging with friends or even creating funny scenarios about others, but when it leads to hurting people, there is a limit.
Researchers say that a little bit of gossip is healthy. - MSNBC

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