There is no doubt that cyberbullying is an epidemic throughout America in the modern, digital age. But what role do parents play? A major issue that arises from digital technology is that people have the ability to maintain complete anonymity. Children and young teens are often intimidated by taunting and bullying that happens online and may not reach out for help from parents or adults. Many times schools “zero tolerance policies” are not enough to stop cyberbullying from occurring.
Parents need to realize that cyberbullying is a serious problem. Often time, parents underestimate how powerful the words of children and teens are. Also, parents underestimate the permanent effects cyber-teasing can have on youth.
It is becoming too common to see very young children with iPhones to call their own. My younger cousin Sophie, who is in fourth grade, was diagnosed with diabetes, and therefore her parents felt it was necessary for her to have a cellphone in case on emergency. Because many of Sophie’s friends were jealous that she got an iPhone, they began teasing her over instant messager and email. Sophie suffered anxiety about going to school because of the taunting messages she received. Sophia’s parents had no idea that young girls could be so cruel, and ultimately they had to get the parents of the other girls involved. If Sophie’s parents were more informed about the power of social media, Sophie may not have had to experience cyberbullying firsthand.
At the least, parents need to moderate their children’s Internet access. If children knew that their parents could see what they were posting, cyberbullying would be less of an epidemic.
Parents also need to look for signs that their child is a cyberbully. The key is to moderate Internet and social media access. If children and parents knew that schools in the Maryland school system had stricter punishments for cyberbullies, there would be greater motivation to put a stop to the problem!