Another tragedy adds to the ever-growing list as another young teen commits suicide due to cyberbullying. 12-year-old Florida native Rebecca Ann Sedwick’s heartbreaking story has been the most recent, well-covered case to date dealing with the cyberbullying issue. Unfortunately the details of the case are similar to most dealing with this subject, however this particular case has brought the aspect of parental responsibility into view more than most. It is a controversy that arises after every incident like this and there isn’t necessarily a right answer, only opinons.
Collectively, as a staff, we’ve talked the topic through in detail and realize that there are extenuating circumstances, and therefore disagreement, like any other contentious issue. It’s hard to get accurate perspective when you come from a different technological generation where not only was the technology not available, it was nowhere near as prevalent with our age group. It is common now to see a seventh grader with a smartphone, or iPad. Many homework assignments are moving online, giving young students more opportunity to browse the Internet, most times unsupervised. No one can argue that cyberbullying, or bullying of any sort, is anything but awful. However, the consensus of our group has agreed that youth today have entirely too much freedom with all the technology they use.
It’s true that none but their generation can relate to what they have, but it has always been this was with new technology. Young adults have always experienced and been more adept with current innovations. So why now does cyberbullying only continue to surge. Parents now seem to be less strict as a whole then in previous generations. Children always need some for of structure, otherwise they will experiment with the boundaries of their freedom. It is becoming more obvious that the leash is being loosened and there’s no clear answer as to why that is.
Not only are parents not paying enough attention to what their children do on the computer, but there is a clear lack of effort in educating them on how to properly use the sites, especially those of social media. It is hard to think of a reason why a 12-year-old would need a facebook, twitter, instagram, etc. And yet, you see more and more that they do, and they post often. They are just figuring everything out for themselves; again testing their limits. However, they don’t understand that everything they put on the Internet is forever, can be retrieved at any time or place and can have long-term consequences. People are more courageous when posting online or through text because they don’t see the immediate effects or reaction. But if anything, the comments made there can be even more harmful because they are in print, can be looked back at and are possibly up somewhere everyone can see.
Parents seem to be afraid to be strict or let their kids fall out of the norm because everyone else’s children are using the same technology. A child’s safety, growth and well-being should always be a parents top priority. This does not mean they should let their kids learn for themselves, but instead not be afraid to enforce limits, parental blocks and access. Parents need to remember that they are parents first, not friends. Children learn through discipline. How do we expect them to learn if they are not even being taught. You can’t control how youth will act or treat each other, but you can be mindful of how it can happen and how to limit it.