Cyber-Bullying: What Do Kids Say About It?
The blessings and curses of living in a technologically advanced society have been revealing themselves in recent years. It’s likely safe to say we haven’t seen just how much of an effect it has on the lives of its users. Back when middle-aged parents of today were growing up, the threat and fear of having personal affairs being aired via social media was a non-issue. Moments of reckless abandon were usually talked about for a few days and became yesterday’s news. There was no picture evidence, for the most part, and it wasn’t published on an inconceivable Internet for the world to see forever, which left room for a subject of pre-teen and teenage scandal to deny, deny, deny. Nowadays, it should be common knowledge for people of all ages to think twice before behaving in ways that could damage one’s reputation because, more often than not, someone close to you or a random witness will record, photograph and publish an embarrassing moment for kicks, giggles and “likes.” The consequence of a situation like this goes far beyond public shame and could potentially cripple the social development of a young person once they’ve been teased or bullied in cyberspace.
On the flip side of this coin, some children are natural-born introverts and feel most comfortable keeping to themselves. Everybody young and older knows of a quiet “nerd” or “geek” in their peer group and, unfortunately, they are often the butt of many jokes and pranks. But everybody needs to build friendships and a lot of times, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and themed chat groups are the only places an introvert may feel safe enough to express themselves or try to befriend the classmates they’re just too timid or shy to spark a face-to-face conversation with. Sadly, rejection and humiliation are realities that young kids are having to grapple with and it doesn’t stop on the playground or in gym class; it follows them home on their smartphones, tablets and laptops. That can enhance a child’s feelings of lonesomeness or hopelessness if he or she feels there is no escape from social trauma.
I recently had the chance to chaperone my middle-school son’s field trip and he, his peers and I talked about cyber-bullying. More than anything I was curious as to how much they knew about the topic and, most importantly, what they would do about it.
Cyber-Bullying: What Do Kids Say About It?
“I think that’s the reason you should wait until you’re 16 create social media accounts. I’ve seen it happen to my older sister’s friends and she was really depressed for a while because she had been dumped by a guy on Facebook and she was getting made fun of for it. If I saw bullying happening, I would get an adult involved as soon as I could.” – Bria, 12
“My parents won’t let me have a Facebook or Twitter page. They say it’s because there’s predators who stalk kids and stuff but I do have an Instagram page and so do most of my friends. This one time I saw a guy I was in third grade with getting called names and this one kid was telling him he’s fat and stuff like that. We’re not even friends but I came to his defense and told that guy and his friend that what they were doing wasn’t cool and they needed to lay off. That was like a snowball effect because all my other friends did the same thing. It’s not cool to be a bully, like nobody wants to be called a bully.” – Evan, 11
“I mean, I don’t know what I would do if I saw one of my friends getting teased online or something. My mom and the school counselors say that you should tell an adult when you see someone being cyber-bullied but some of these girls are asking for it. Like if you take a picture that’s inappropriate and send it to a boy, what do you think he’s going to do? He’s going to share it with his friends and then it gets spread around until it’s on Instagram! The last thing I want to do is get a bunch of people in my class in trouble. I would probably keep my mouth shut and mind my own business.” – Alexandra, 11
“Some kids who get bullied in school and cyber bullied are the ones who end up doing mass shootings and crap like that. I’m sure if somebody put a stop to it beforehand then maybe so many people wouldn’t be killing people or themselves. That’s the only reason why I would say go to an adult because you never know if someone is about to go crazy and start hurting people because they’ve been bullied all their life and they don’t have any friends. I would just tell an adult.” – Zack, 11