Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Parents? It's Time to 'Check In'

Adults need to enforce stronger punishments when kids are caught cyberbullying. Kids need to be held accountable for their actions and need a punishment when they are caught doing something that puts someone else down. The Globe and Mail states that “We are witnessing a growing number of tragedies from cyberbullying, most recently the tragic losses of Rehtaeh Parsons in Nova Scotia and Amanda Todd in British Columbia.” Rehtaeh Parsons took her life by hanging herself after being cyberbullied because of a picture. The picture was apparently of her being sexually assaulted and it was passed around her school. Amanda Todd took her life on October of 2012. She took her life because she was being cyberbullied by a cyber-stalker and eventually couldn’t handle it anymore. These deaths could've been prevented if the parents or adult figures in these teenagers' lives realized what their kids were doing online and took action.

Words can hurt and cause extreme damages, the damages being suicide, self harm, depression and more. According to The Globe and Mail, “most bullies or those being bullied are children and youth.” Also Bullying Statistics says that “over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online.” Where do kids learn to treat other kids so horribly while on social networking sites? The answer that makes the most sense is they learn it from seeing the comments on networking sites and think it is okay to talk to people they do or don’t know in harsh or judgemental ways. In order to better prevent kids from bullying other kids online is to show them what the right thing to do is to begin with. Most kids don’t know how much damage their words cause, and it’s because of what they are witnessing both online and face to face.

My Secure Cyberspace states that “cyberbullying takes place over the Internet and mobile devices in ways that could be completely hidden from the knowledge of parents, guardians and school staff.” With this being said, parents allow their children to have access to technology like cell phones, computers, and other devices, trusting them to use irresponsibly. According to Marketing Land, 94% of teenagers use Facebook. What most parents don’t know is that their kids are really abusing their power and using their technology in a way that hurts other people. Now don’t get me wrong, not all kids are like this and don’t go raiding your child’s phone because of what I am telling you, but really know that you should be aware of both your child’s behavior and the way they treat others.

An opposing argument that people could make in regards to parents or adult figures getting involved would be that kids should have freedom of speech as stated in the First Amendment. According to ABA Journal, a bill is being proposed by Indiana’s House of Representatives. This bill would give parents and teachers the power to punish students for treating people harshly online whether or not it is happening inside or outside of schools. However, there are people that would argue that this is going against the First Amendment stating that everyone has the right to say what they want. But when are kids going too far and when should adults have to power to take action in stopping what is said online.

Freedom of speech is definitely something to think about when it comes to leaving comments online. But when is it too much and when should adults have the right to stop and punish kids for what they write online? Parents cannot afford to be checked out, they need to check in and start being aware of what is happening online.

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Update: November 14, 2013

Conclusion: Ultimately I didn't learn much about cyberbullying other than what I already knew. However, the comments that other bloggers left on my blog helped me to consider other options on how to deal with cyberbullying. For example teaching kids at a young age how to act responsibly on the internet. Teaching kids how to be more responsible from a young age is a huge thing and probably would have a major effect on cyberbullying. It would have a major effect because if you learn how to do something from a young age, then it helps you remember how to act when you start to get older. The comments that were left on my blog made it clear that telling an adult isn't always going to solve the problem immediately or at all, especially in the case of cyberbullying. However, I do believe that telling an adult would indeed help lessen the amount of people that cyberbully. Although these comments didn’t make me change my mind about the way to deal with cyberbullying, they really opened my mind and made me think that maybe teaching kids when they are young how to act appropriately on the internet is a smart thing to do especially if you want them to learn how to act responsibly when they grown up both online and face to face.

7 comments:

  1. I like your question, "But when is it too much and when should adults have the right to stop and punish kids for what they write online?" I wonder when and how you think that parents should check on their children's online communication. You wrote, "...don’t go raiding your child’s phone because of what I am telling you, but really know that you should be aware of both your child’s behavior and the way they treat others." I think most parents are aware of how their child treats others when the parents are around, but as children grow and become more independent (and spend more time online), it becomes increasingly difficult for parents to really know how their child treats others. I like how you have presented several perspectives here, Thing 1. Your research shows that there are no easy answers, and that bullying, which was once easier to recognize because it was done in more public places, has become more insidious and hidden because of the Internet.

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  2. This was a comment left on my Facebook feed for your post (from a friend in Oregon):

    I completely agree with the author that parents need to be more on top of things as parents, but how do we do that without taking our kids technology and viewing it. I think right and wrong is getting more and more blurred but how do the grown ups intervene? I'm truly asking the question. What solutions do you or your peers think would work that would help the adults find a better way ?

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  3. Big problems here. I don't think that snooping is necessarily the answer, as it will only make kids more secretive. The monster of Internet activity is already with us. I foresee a time when things will be a bit more controlled (in the same way as cigarettes and alcohol) but for now we have to deal with sites that can be accessed by anyone and everyone. I think the answer lies in education, education and more education. Schools should, from as early as 11 years of age, provide as much information as they can about what goes on online, in the same way as they teach about crossing the road and 'stranger danger'. Parents should behave in the same way - warning their kids only to friend people they know in real life, not to go on webcams etc. You will never stop idiots saying nasty things online, but kids must be able to know how to respond and who to go to. As for porn? Do everything you can to block it, but kids will be inquisitive. Parents need to talk with their kids more. It's just unfortunate that the types of conversation that might have been for 15-16 year olds a few years ago are now for 11-12 year olds. This is all relatively new. It might be the next generation who truly deal with it. And basically - be aware that if you give your kids Internet access at age 11, you are throwing them into a cesspit!

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  4. This topic is definitely one that is getting more attention in the media. I remember the Amanda Todd case and I saw her goodbye video. How people treat each other online will always be an issue because there will always be terrible people in this world. Cyberbullies need to be punished for what they have done to their victims, however I feel it is also important to educate our kids about the impact of sharing on the Internet. Once something is on the web, it is difficult to erase. I'm not saying it is the victims fault, everyone makes mistakes and should be entitled to a do-over, but avoiding sharing racy pics is the first step. I strongly agree with Phillip Rose that kids should be taught appropriate use of the Internet from a young age.

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    1. I agree with you and Phillip Rose that kids should be taught how to be respectful online from a young age, but even with that being taught to kids there is no guarantee that it will stop or even make a dent in the way people talk online. Although punishing kids for cyberbullying won't always work as effectively as people want it to, it will still put a conscience in kid's minds so when they think about writing hateful things online they will know that there are likely going to be consequences. It's sad to think that cyberbullying will always be an issue online, but it's true people don't really care what they write or how it effects other people. I think everyone but especially adults need to think or a way that will make cyberbullying less of an issue, whether that means making a law or severe punishments. However we as a society can't afford to keep waiting to punish kids for writing hateful things. Because Amanda Todd and others like her took their lives because people weren't being punished for what they were writing and saying to people.

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  5. It's no question that cyberbullying is a massive problem. I do believe that something has to be done about it, but I'm afraid that telling an adult is just not a logical solution. Even on social networks like Facebook, bullies DO have a barrier of anonymity and in many cases, strength in numbers. Many adults are not tech savvy, so they can't do anything about the bullies (Imagine that you were bullying a teenager, and his or her parent sends you a Facebook message or an email telling you to stop. Most bullies can simply laugh it off because the parents really have no power on the net and can't really do anything about it.), and the advice that they offer isn't always helpful. They likely have not been in such a situation. In fact, telling an adult may not be a viable solution with regular bullying either. As Nightwing said, the best defense against bullying is to simply not give fuel to the fire. In the teenage world, racy pictures and other incriminating material is like a time bomb thats missing it's remote switch, dangerous and horrifyingly easy to get ahold of. Proper internet usage could actually save the lives of the would be victims of cyberbullying. Although I disagree with your method of controlling cyberbullying, I feel that you still made a compelling argument and I enjoyed reading your post.

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    1. Jeff,
      Adults may not be tech savvy, but it doesn't really make a difference if they are or are not tech savvy. Just telling an adult can make a difference and make you feel better and more safe knowing that someone you trust is aware about what is going on online. Now what is the adult going to do with the knowledge that you are being bullied online? Well they could do a number of things, 1. If they are tech savvy then they could reply to the comment that was inappropriate. 2. If it was someone you know then the adult could talk to the parent of that child. Overall I think that telling an adult will not only make you feel more secure and safe, but telling an adult has the potential to stop the problem.

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