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Fed-up kids are using technology to find comfort online - and air dirty laundry Add to ...

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Through the power of technology, children of divorce are making themselves heard, posting stories of marital mistreatment, uploading recordings of angry phone messages and even linking to video of their parents' fights.

As actor Alec Baldwin learned last week, private interaction with your family can have very public consequences when it finds its way online.

Although there is no suggestion that his 11-year-old daughter, Ireland, leaked his angry tirade to a gossip website, many kids are harnessing the Internet's power as a way to work through - or influence - their parents' divorce.

"They want to shame their parents into good behaviour," says Deborah Moskovitch, a Toronto-based divorce consultant. "But the one that's getting hurt is the kid."

In the past, children whose parents were breaking up tended to keep their feelings private, she said, embarrassed about how friends might react to their family's dysfunction.

But a generation weaned on social networking has become empowered by the Internet's anonymity and seems to find comfort in connecting with other young people who understand what they're going through.

"I fell asleep to the sounds of my parents arguing," a teenage girl says in a clip posted on YouTube.

"I put on my iPod. It was pretty intense."

"Sounds like my parents," reads a comment posted below the video.

Another clip on the popular file-sharing site appears to be filmed with a cellphone camera, as the parents of a teenage girl fight in the kitchen.

"You lying, son-of-a-bitch loser," a woman can be heard screaming in the background.

Some children have gone beyond posting sporadic messages and video, setting up specific websites to chronicle their parents' divorce proceedings or discussing their family business in chat groups.

"They don't know that I heard them talking about divorce," one teenage girl wrote in a LiveWire forum.

"I don't know what to do with them, they drive me crazy with there [sic] fighting all the time. I never thought this would happen."

Because children now share private thoughts as easily as they upload material, many divorce lawyers have started counselling parents not to leave voice-mail messages or send e-mails that could reflect badly on them in a custody dispute.

"Never put anything in writing that you don't want your kids to read," says Ms. Moskovitch, whose book, The Smart Divorce, will be released in July. "There's a lot that can come back to haunt you."

Seeing one parent's hurtful words to another or hearing a recorded diatribe could trigger a child to take action, she added.

"If there's a lot of stuff thrown in their face, they're really going to be affected by it," she said. "I think they are trying to say to their parents: 'We need to move on.' "

And the Internet does not just provide refuge for children whose parents have divorced.

One teenage YouTube user, who posts video under the handle unigpod, plays for the camera two angry voice-mail messages purportedly from his mother, who is railing against his homosexuality.

"You've made it clear you hate me," she says in one. "I'm doing the best I fucking can."

Another teenage girl, whose profile says she is from Thunder Bay, describes her parents' disharmony on a LiveJournal page.

"She's chucked two coffee cups across the room in the past half hour," she wrote of her mother.

Under current mood, she lists: "depressed." Her current music: "parents yelling."

Follow on Twitter: @SiriAgrell

 

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