Hey teens, remember the game “telephone?” You may have played it as a kid. Everyone sits in a circle and whispers a story to the person next to you. The game shows how quickly a simple sentence or story can morph into something completely different by the time it reaches the last person. So if you’re a teenager and the target of a nasty rumor, you can relate to how truth can easily become distorted.
While so many teenagers like to hear a juicy story, it can be a nightmare when the gossip is about you. Gossiping hurts feelings, reputations and in some cases, destroys lives. In its most malicious form, it’s actually a form of social bullying.
If you’ve ever been the target of gossip and rumors among other teenagers, you might even feel like you’re starring in your own reality show. Other teens may say that you’re dating someone that you’re not, or they might just make fun of what you’re wearing or how you look. What can you do to protect yourself?
Stop the Buzz
- Don’t share personal information with someone you know can’t keep a secret.
- We all need someone we can confide in, but make sure they’re someone you can trust completely.
Happy Virtual Trails
- Don’t text or email to just anyone. Be careful what you post on Facebook.
- Don’t leave confidential information on a voicemail message.
- Beware of taking compromising photos of yourself and sending them to others.
- Many teenagers who gossip have low self-esteem and have nothing better to do.
- What comes around, goes around. Taking part in gossip is just as bad as being the one who starts a rumor, so don’t hang out with people who make a sport out of gossiping. It’ll only lower your credibility.
Sticks and Stones
- If you think the rumor is silly and meaningless, then the best reaction is no reaction. Don’t give the gossiper what she wants – a reaction.
- Just stay calm and let the rumor die down on its own. Try to laugh it off – if you freak out, you’ll draw more attention to yourself and people might think the rumor is actually true.
- Unless you know for certain who started the rumor, don’t accuse someone of being the source.
Out of Control
- If you feel the gossip is malicious or out of control, get help, either from a teacher, counselor, principal, parent or even the police. Be sure to tell them that you want to remain anonymous so that there’s no backlash.
- You have to be your own advocate. Gossiping is a form of bullying so you have the right to protect yourself.
Last reviewed Nov. 17, 2014