Monday, April 15, 2013

Followers

It has been a very long time since I have had real inspiration to write a blog post here. But there is something I just have to write about today.

As a counselor I see all type and manner of teens in my office. Some with life adjustment issues, some with life and death issues. Now, there is one issue in particular that has been coming up more and more.  That would be how kids are using social networking to cyber bully one another 24/7.



In the old days, if there was a bully messing with you at school - even if the teacher didn't do anything about it - at least you could (generally) go home and have a break from the peer persecution. Not any more.

I have young people all but emotionally undone in my office because near-strangers from a school with thousands of kids in attendance took to Twitter to tell their "followers" that the targeted teen was a "loser."

The above was an actual exchange between two teens. More "followers" is now the trump card? I asked this teen if she knew who Jim Jones was (of course no one under 40 knows who he is). He also had a lot of "followers" but that didn't make him a good person. 

What can we as counselors, teachers, parents do about cyber bullying? What can we do for our teens to encourage them to "sign out," as it were, once in a while at home so that they are not 24/7 at the mercy of cowardly online bullies (teens seem to have moved away from Facebook somewhat and toward Twitter to carry on their "wall wars"). 


While I love technology and the connections the online world can afford us, I am so glad that Facebook and Twitter were not around when I was in high school. There is no reason people need to stay "plugged in" 24/7.

One young person said that when she tried to confront one of her online bullies face to face, they backed down.  What would happen if teens knew how to talk TO each other and not just ABOUT each other? 


  



22 comments:

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Jim Stout said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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Eugene Dean said...

Thank you for bringing this topic up for discussion. Teenagers have a much more difficult time than in the past because of social media. Cyber bullying is out of control, and we need to take action to eradicate it. I hope you don't mind if I borrow that Jim Jones line from you.

Eugene Dean | http://www.myrnayenter-mankato.com

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Jerry Boggs said...

I couldn't agree with you more, Eugene. Social media and the Internet in general has introduced entirely new issues for teenagers to face. Adults and children alike are less inhibited when online. It is not always good to say what is on one's mind.

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Helen Malingo said...

I was surprised by my reaction, after I read your blog. I started to empathize with these kids who struggle with bullies. When I was a young teen I was bullied too, and it was a learning experience. Although it was a hard lesson to learn, at least I got to go home and rest it off.

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Cynthia Rhose said...

I agree with your quote, that many of the problems of today would disappear if we would stop talking poorly about each other. It is nice though that we have counseling centers today where a teens can go to talk about their problems. I can't even imagine what life would be like without that option.
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