The use of information technology is currently a more popular social phenomenon than ever before. Thus, most young people are using the Internet for different purposes which may include studies and undertaking research, but mostly for socialization (Ybarra 247). The internet has now become a big source of fun for the majority of young people, with chatting, e-mailing, sharing pictures, videos and other forms of documents and files becoming everyday activities. Nevertheless, just like in many other social situations in life, there are people who take pride in harassing, demeaning and bullying others using the information technology and electronic devices, a practice commonly referred to as cyber bullying (“Prevent Cyber bullying”). Bullying can cause frustrations on the victims, especially those who are bullied constantly, resulting in psychological trauma or even more fatal occurrences such as suicide. Thus, parents should team up with their children to explore and develop safe ways of using technology, while monitoring and controlling their children’s internet use, to protect their children against cyber bullying.
The practice of receiving mean messages, threatening texts, hurtful posts or even negative and damaging rumors is something that is happening with teens and adolescents every single day globally. It is no longer unusual for teens to find sexually explicit and obscene photographs of them or their friends on the internet, even without knowing how pictures ended up there. According to bullyingstatistics.org, 50 of adolescents and teens have experienced cyber bullying, and equally 50 of the teens and adolescents have been involved in cyber bullying (bullyingstatistics.org). Additionally, one in every three adolescents has received threatening messages either through the Internet or over the phone, while 25 of teens have experienced repetitive cyber bullying (bullyingstatistics.org). Consequently, according to statistics from the meganmeierfoundation.org, 2.2 million school children reported having experienced cyber bullying in the USA in 2011 (“Bullying, Cyber bullying & Suicide Statistics”). Most worrying though, is the fact that 38 of frequent bullied-victims in 2013 reported having suicidal thoughts, which sends a shock down the spine, considering that suicide has been identified as the third major cause of death for young people aged between 15 and 24 years (“Bullying, Cyber bullying & Suicide Statistics”).
While the connection between cyber bullying and suicidal thoughts for 38 of the people who have been bullied repetitively can seem to be farfetched, there is no doubt that evidence lies everywhere that cyber bullying is a killer behavior. Alexis Pilkington, a well known and celebrated athlete at her prime age of career committed suicide in her bedroom, following a streak of cyber bullying messages, thus ending her promising life on March 21, 2010 (Long and Gross, n.p.). Why is cyber bulling such a big issue if one may ask? Cyber bullying has the same effects as physical bullying; only that cyber bullying is worse, since there is no running away (Ybarra, 251). It would be easier to escape from physical confrontation, but the psychological trauma arising from cyber bullying is devastating. This is because; the internet is all over, and if an individual being cyber-bullied decided not to access the internet anymore, his/her friends or alternatively enemies, will still make the torture continue. Simply put therefore, cyber bullying can frustrate a victim to death, since there are just very few options of running away from it once it has started (Ybarra, 251). The major problem is that the victim may at times turn out to be the aggressor in an attempt to defend against the cyber bullies, and this can go on until cows come home. However, one thing is certain; psychological trauma, mental illnesses or at worst suicidal thoughts, are not farfetched occurrences on cyber bullying victims.
There is no doubt therefore, that many organizations, both online and on-location have come up to help address the vice of cyber bullying. In every major city or town, every social media site and every community organization running out there, someone is doing something about cyber bullying. Campaigns have been launched on the online platforms and even in the mainstream media through print messages warning against the evil of cyber bullying, while others are advertising professional help for the victims of cyber bullying. The setback associated with online and on-location campaigns against cyber bullying is that they target helping the victims of cyber bullying, and not so much on preventing potential victims from falling into the trap (bullyingstatistics.org). The government on its side is enacting, defining and redefining laws and statutes that can prosecute the perpetrators of cyber bullying once they have been unlucky to be nabbed by the hand of the law. Nevertheless, even with appropriate laws in place, with the anonymity option that cyber bullies mostly apply, finding them into the drag net is something that resilience will reward. Simply put therefore, the society is trying the most viable options at hand, but the options never prove to be adequate for the daunting task of bringing down cyber bullying (Long and Gross, n.p.).
Therefore, the best and only solution to cyber bullying is this one; child-parent partnership to exploring and adapting safe ways of using the internet. Culture builds people or people build culture. Either way, culture has an influence on the way of life of a people. Thus, building the culture of responsible use of the internet and the social media platforms is the most fool proof method of addressing cyber bullying (“Prevent Cyber bullying”.). However, building such a culture cannot be that simple. The internet has temptations. But, even with the temptations, a prepared and warned teen or adolescent is better in handling the temptation than the unprepared and the clueless one. In this respect, parents can build a culture of responsible internet use through partnering with their children, not in prohibiting them from the social media and internet use, but letting them understand fully the magnitude of the danger posed by irresponsible use of the internet and the other technology tools available to them (“Prevent Cyber bullying”).
Parents can sit down and discuss with their children about the internet and its applications. Parents should know what their children are doing online by carefully monitoring every of their online interaction whenever possible. Through the child-parent partnership, parents should set the rule of internet and other technology tools used by their children (“Prevent Cyber bullying”). With the knowledge of how the children are using the internet and the rules of its use in place, parents should enforce the rules with a firm hand, but encourage and reward responsible use with an equally open and embracing hand. Parents should become indirect partners to what their children do online. Monitor whatever they do through secretly installed monitoring and control software (“Prevent Cyber bullying”). Parents should borrow and use their children’s devices for simple and routine surveillance. Parent can recommend a responsible adult to follow their children on their social media websites and pages, and simply evaluate their activities. Parents should make their children’s social media and internets use their job to monitor and control.
There are still chances that critics will counter this solution by holding that parents cannot stalk their children forever, while also holding that it is unethical to stalk their children’s internet and social media interactions anyway. The position for this argument however, is that monitoring and control can continue until the age of responsibility is attained, where it may become tricky for parents to continue monitoring and controlling their children. However, by then, their children will have developed a culture of caution, if not that of desisting from potentially harmful internet and social media interactions (Ybarra, 255). This way, a win-win situation will have been created by averting the chances of cyber bullies attacking such children, while also protecting against such children turning out to be cyber-bullies. If every parent would do that, then, only the runaway dissidents would be conducting the cyber bullying business, and even then, they would be fewer for the hand of law to target effectively.
“Bullying, Cyber bullying & Suicide Statistics.” Megan Meier Foundation, 2013. Web. 17 February 2015 < meganmeierfoundation.org>
“Cyber Bullying Statistics.” Bullyingstatistics.org, 2013. Web. 17 February 2015 < bullyingstatistics.org>
Long, Colleen and Samantha Gross. “Alexis Pilkington Facebook Horror: Cyber Bullies Harass Teen Even After Suicide.” The Huffing ton Post, May 24, 2010. Web. 17 February 2015. < huffingtonpost.com/>
“Prevent Cyber bullying.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, n.d. Web. 17 February 2015. < stopbullying.gov >
Ybarra, Michele L. “Linkages between depressive symptomatology and Internet harassment among young regular Internet users”. Cyberpsychol and Behavior 7, 2 (2004): 247-57.