I had to look up the word ‘cyber-bullying’ again to be sure that I was not imagining things, and my research led me to the discovery of the Accredited Schools Online website, where they define cyberbullying as something that “occurs when someone harasses, torments, threatens or humiliates someone else through the use of technology – including text messages, social media, sites, email, instant messages and websites.”
It was happening way too often. My teenager would be extremely upset after being online, texting or gaming with his friends. At first, I paid it no mind; I thought he was just animated from losing at fortnight, but then it started to get worse, he just seemed angry all the time, so I did what every mom would do: I probed.
Those of you with teenagers can probably guess what happened next. Teenagers normally do not believe that their parents know anything – especially when it comes to many of these social media platforms that have become a way of life for these Gen Z’s. and to a certain degree, there may be some truth to that. But what I do know is most parents know when they need to intervene in matters in order to protect their child.
With the Covid_19 lockdown and physical distancing that has been in place for a while now, kids are now online for longer periods than before. Older kids, especially, are online with less parental supervision than younger kids, more so if parents are also working full time from home. This results in kids having the tendency to flip through other websites and social media platforms completed unrelated to their school work.
With kids being physically separated from their friends and peers, and other day to day routines that keep their minds pre-occupied, it results in them being lonely, or simply just bored. They look for ways to alleviate the boredom and dullness of the day after day spent at home by looking for something fun and entertaining to do. Some may just be looking for attention. A lot of these kids are still immature in their reasoning processes, and in some unfortunate cases, they may use teasing, or making fun of others as a way to get the attention or the power that they crave, because they gain a sense of superiority by attacking others, particularly on public social media platforms. Half the time, they do not even realise that what they are doing is a form of bullying. The unfortunate results is that cyberbullying makes teens twice as likely to self harm or attempt suicide.
Now, more than ever, it has become so important for parents to be aware of their children’s online activities. Know who they are talking to, which social media platforms they are using. In fact, if you’re like me, you may need to educate yourself on what outlets are there, and how they work. And if your parent antennas alert you that something is wrong, then please, do something. Intervene. Have someone speak to your child, if necessary. You will want this online school experience to be a positive one for your kids, so that they can live to tell about it to future generations.