Samara O'Shea

Ill Cyber Intentions

“The world, that understandable and lawful world, was slipping away.”
~ William Golding, Lord of the Flies

The concern I mentioned yesterday was for the intellectual and long-term emotional effects that technology is having on the youth of today—in reaction to an article I read in Philadelphia magazine. If and how technology will change teenaged brains has yet to be seen. What I’d like to discuss today is Cyberbullying, which is an immediate concern. This is in reaction to a Times article called “As Bullies Go Digital, Parents Play Catch-Up”.

Unlike intellectual regression, I don’t wonder if cyber-mistreatment among teenagers is happening and if it’s horrible. I am certain that it is. Kids are mean. They were mean when I was in Jr. High and High School. They have always been mean. William Golding knew this when he wrote Lord of the Flies, and the evidence continues to mount.

The difference between then and now is, technology has taken away the safe haven—home. Once upon a time you could walk in your house and have a 12-hour break from the ridicule. And if not the ridicule, then the social anxiety that your friends might get mad at you for whatever unknown reason. Not anymore. The mean ones can text-torture at will, and mock you on Facebook all hours of the night.

Here are some points that struck me:

~ “This is a dark, vicious side of adolescence, enabled and magnified by technology. Yet because so many horrified parents are bewildered by the technology, they think they are helpless to address the problems.”

~ “‘I’m not seeing signs that parents are getting more savvy with technology,’ said Russell A. Sabella, former president of the American School Counselor Association. ‘They’re not taking the time and effort to educate themselves, and as a result, they’ve made it another responsibility for schools. But schools didn’t give the kids their cellphones.'”

~ “Dr. Englander reminded parents that while children may be nimble with technology, they lack the maturity to understand it.”

And this . . .

~ “Parents who present other parents with a printout of their child’s most repugnant moments should be prepared for minimization, even denial.”

~ “No matter how parents see their children, learning of the cruelties they may perpetrate is jarring and can feel like an indictment of their child-rearing.”

This has always been a problem with parents. I remember plenty of parents in my neighborhood who took the “Not my child. My child wouldn’t do that” attitude. Perhaps they are helping their pride by doing so but they are not helping their children—at all.

My heart was in my throat as I read most of this. The saving grace came at the end. It came in the form of two mothers: Judy and Christine. They have separate but equally cyber-destructive daughters. They first took the most important step: admitting what their daughters had done.

~ “Once Judy got over her shock, she said, ‘I had to accept that my daughter had really done this and it was so ugly.'”

Following the admittance, they took different but effective measures to deal with the situation. One can only hope more parents will do these very things.

Okay that’s all on teenagers for now. Tomorrow it’s back to Christmas cards and merriment.