My first article on Huffington Post: Cyberbullying Hits Home

Lately, the news about how social media is creating a haven for cruelty especially among kids prompted me to write a post. I was fortunate enough to get a writing gig on Huffington Post! Thanks Rashida! So I decided that my first article would be about Cyberbullying Hits Home.

This is a personal story and one that had (thankfully) a positive ending. There was no emotional turmoil and the bullying ended as quickly as it began. But other kids have not been so lucky. As a mother, I would hope that I could always protect my children from anything or anyone that would dare to harm them. These days, their own home cannot shield the hurtful words, picture or videos that penetrate our walls via this world wide web. As much as good has come out of social networking, an equal and more harmful poison has threatened  the emotional livelihoods of our own children. The net allows bullies to hide behind its veil of anonymity and torture others without consequence.  They now come in droves, not in groups.

I digress…. Please read this article if you are a parent.

Next week November 14-18 is Anti-Bullying Awareness Week.  I’ll be posting another article on What’s Your Tech.  Please look out for it! cheers!

Cyberbullying Hits Home

Tonight I found out from my 10 year old that a girl in her class has uploaded a video on YouTube about her. This girl was an on-and-off friend of my daughter, and I’ve questioned the friendship for sometime. I could never have imagined that a small school tiff led her to produce a video announcing her dislike of my daughter. But she was quick to admit, quite openly, that she created the video. She even gave the kids, including my daughter, the name of the video and what she had said. I reviewed the comments below the video–> my daughter noted the number of her friends also on Youtube — mostly attacking this girl for posting the video in the first place. 

I doubt my daughter understands the ramifications of what’s on the video but she was smart enough to understand that this is not something you do normally to a friend, especially if the spat was minor.  Or was it minor? And is this behaviour an anomaly? Now, I’m not so sure, but I am thankful she chose to come to us with this as opposed to deal with it herself.

In today’s democratization of content, people do post things that are inappropriate and I’ve witnessed friendly, diplomatic disputes on Twitter.  But for the most part that’s among mature adults… mature is the operative word. Kids are not so discrete. They respond to the moment, and openly display their attacks without any thought to consequences of their actions. Their weapons are words…. more hurtful because it’s displayed for the world to see… and the more views or responses seem to validate the original posting. It’s extremely easy to build this audience. The power of the spoken word, as I’ve seen in my line of work, can reach many …. on the school yard to the classrom, and inevitably to the computer screen. The more controversial, the greater the appeal —- many times at the expense of someone’s reputation and honour.

I went to look for the video again and this time a message popped up that it had been removed by the user. Perhaps she was found out; or perhaps she realized what she had done. It doesn’t really matter at this point. The damage had been done and it’s left a little girl wondering what she had done to deserve this. What I fear is the ease that this has been developed. The web has given people the ability to build voice at incredible speed and reach. It never occurred to me that I would be experiencing it first hand.

I love the work that I do and I often tell family and friends…. mostly naysayers of social media… that you just need to be aware what your kids are doing online and ensure the communication is open. That does not give you control of what happens but it mitigates the fallout, if any. I don’t want to shield my child from the web… the reality is she will receive the note one way or another: at school or even by phone. I just want to make sure I’ve taught her enough to come to her parents when these things are beyond her control.



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