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MLB Offensive Tweets Present Teaching Moment for Parents

MLB Offensive Tweets Present Teaching Moment for Parents 2018-08-02
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Elizabeth  Burgess Dowdell, PhD

Major League Baseball teams have been rocked in recent weeks by the unearthing of offensive tweets sent by players long before their professional careers began. Players from teams including the Brewers, Nationals and Braves have faced backlash over tweets they sent during their teenage years that included racist and homophobic slurs and sentiments. The recently discovered public tweets serve as a reminder that once something is posted on the Internet, it's there to stay, available to the public eye for years to come.

Elizabeth Dowdell, PhD, RN, FAAN (pictured above), Professor at the Villanova University M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, is an expert in how adolescents use social media and the risks posed by their online behaviors. Dowdell is available to discuss how parents can use these controversies as teaching moments for their children.

"Open communication is key to Internet safety and good social media behavior," Dowdell says. "Using the MLB as an opportunity, parents can start a conversation about online posts by asking their child, tween, or teen about their online experiences. They should ask open-ended questions such as: What have you seen online? What do you think about that online posting? Have you ever wanted to respond – if yes, how did you respond?"

According to Dowdell, parents should reinforce that nothing posted, uploaded or shared on the Internet can ever be truly removed. She says adolescents typically aren't able to process potential long -term consequences; developmentally, they are focused on the here and now.

"This age group wants to explore their growing independence from parents and family to develop a sense of self. Their sense of personal identity is shaped by experiences and interactions with others, including online. Teens make posts online to get reactions from their peers. Posts that could get them in trouble later often originate from trying to make friends laugh, not because it's something they believe in their hearts."

To contact Dowdell, click her headshot above, call the Media Relations office at (610) 519-5152 or email

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