As we approach world anti-bullying day, the focus for another year is firmly set on the landscape of cyber bullying.
Suicide is one of the largest killers of our youths and is on the rise around the nation, with the incidents of cyber-related youth suicide at an all time high. And while many of us will open a much needed conversation on how to empower and equip our younger generations with the skills to handle cyber-bullies, I can’t help but bring your attention to one glaring issue…is it really necessary for our children to be on social media?
Without fail your gut reaction will be yeah, of course, it’s the times we live in and all their friends are doing it. However it’s that exact mentality that is contributing to the rise in cyber related suicides.
Rewind the clock 20 years and the likes of Facebook and Instagram were a laughable distant thought. Something you may see on Beyond 2000 but had very little belief would happen. Jump to today and the average person is attached to their mobile appendage like it’s pumping blood directly to the heart. We simply can’t live without it…me included. This however is something I’m not actually proud of!
Bullying is something that exists. Unfortunately, blunt though I sound, you can’t completely eliminate bullying, it’s some people’s way of behaving. We can however work with it, both the bullies, and the victims. Empower those who need to be and de-power the bullies. And we can reduce the amount of social media bullying by simply saying…no to social media for kids.
I was a sensitive (still am) kid. I was bullied and I struggled with anxiety, depression and insecurity through my youth. I think about my struggles and I’m simply grateful that social media wasn’t around to magnify the situation…I don’t know how I would have coped, if I would have coped.
Parents do have one element of control over this dangerous world and that’s simply to say no! Now before you yell at me and say it’s too hard and kids need to learn and will be left out…hear me out!
I know it’s bloody hard to say no to kids! I get it! It’s hard enough to tell a toddler they can’t have another glass of milk let alone a young teen they can’t be on facebook! Yes you’re going to be hated. Yes you’ll be the worst person… but guess what you’re also being a parent! Parenting sux at times and this is one of them! If your kids don’t have friends and feel completely isolated by not having social media then I suggest you look at your school and the social environments of your children.
I remember when I was 12, I wanted a Nintendo 64 and a game boy. The answer was a simple NO. No discussion, nothing! I begged, I pleaded and I told my parents my friends would hate me if I didnt have what they had. My parents stood their ground, and you know what? Life went on. My friends didn’t care. They still liked me and it was something we just didn’t talk about. It was hard, but my parents did it because they were fighting for what they believed, and we deserve to do it for our kids.
The landscape is oh so much more dangerous now. Kids are taking their lives, so more than ever it’s time for parents to man up. Children will not lose computer skills by not being on social media. They will not fall behind. They can learn when their maturity is developed and when they are ready. It will not alter their intellectual outcomes or jeopardise their futures.
Despite their negotiations, teenagers are not actually adults and for a very good developmental reason and that’s they simply don’t have adult maturity.
So ask yourself this. While you are trying to arm your kids with the best skills possible to beat cyber bullying (and you should most definitely!), ask yourself do they really need to be on social media? Are they really old enough? Mature enough? And is it actually necessary or should you switch it off and head back to reality?
Are YOU the parent giving in to social demand? It might be a battle but your job isn’t to give them what they want but to fight for them to make it to adulthood equiped with power and skill!
Let’s look after our kids…don’t give bullies the platform! Don’t let your kids on social media until they really are old enough for it. And remember…if they want to speak to their friends, the phone still works!