The positive uses of social media technology are vast. People are able to get in touch with old friends, increase and advertise their small businesses and connect with others. Both professionally and personally, social media technology has offered endless outcomes for adults. However, students today are growing up around social media technology. It is not a phenomenon as it is for many adults, but a way of life. Despite age requirements and rules, many children join social media groups to connect with their friends to access information. The once school yard brawl has now taken to the internet, where children and teens do not exchange blows but publically fight with one another over social media technology. Hurtful texts, instant messages and emails have been a problem for so many families. Bullying has taken on its own evolution to the internet; an evolution that parents should be aware of.
At one point in time, a school yard bully would harass children before and after school. The behaviour of the bully is inexcusable and the bullied child would run home, into the safety net of the house. The bullying would cease until the next day. The bullied child had a break. Today, there is no temporary sanctuary. With the connection of text messaging, Facebook, and twitter, teens and children can easily access and alter each other’s information and continue the bullying while the child is at home. Mean texts, photo shopping pictures to put the child in an embarrassing photo, or harassing emails are just some of the ways that bullying is a twenty four hour a day action.
Bullying is instant. Before the internet, gossip took its time to spread around the school. One had a chance to fix the problem or quash the rumors. Now, a simple text to each student spreads rumors instantaneously. Bullied children are depressed, often turning to their parents for help. Parents who grew up in a pre-internet world may not understand that the bullying does not end in the school yard, but is constant and that online attacks are a permanent, searchable fixture. Harsh words and horrible gossip can never be forgotten as it festers on the internet.
The internet and social media technology has produced so many positive results. However, schools should take the time to explain to students the severity of their words. Words, typed or said can be vicious. It is the unfortunate truth that suicide from online bullying is on the rise. If students are aware of the dangers of online bullying and respecting each other’s privacy, perhaps a few lives are saved. It is integral for parents to keep informed about social media technology. By keeping up to speed, parents will have a better understanding what sites their children are joining and how important it is to teach your children to respect each other. They do not have to like each other or agree with each other but respect the fact that information can be distorted and spread to strangers. By educating ourselves, we can help our children to use the internet positively to connect with each other.