Cyber-bullying: A Dark Side of Technology

photo credit: kid-josh via photopin cc

I know I’m usually gushing over the extraordinary wonderful-ness of all things tech. Every blog is a case in point …… Just look how we can reach out and be heard, learn from, share, and make friendships all over the world.

But there are some dark sides to all this communication, and sadly the results can be tragic.

Technology has elevated bullying to a whole new level. When I was active in my job, I worked with children. This was a long time ago, and there was no such thing as Facebook and Twitter and instant messaging.

When I dealt with the victims of bullies, no matter how horrible these individuals were feeling, no matter how bad the day had become, at least I could reassure them that they were safe at home. They had a respite. A time to recover, gain strength and regroup their energy in order to try to face another day.

But today all that has changed.

A bullied child is at risk 24 hours a day. Messaging, Facebook, the Internet, posted Photographs….. it is relentless. There is no respite. Home is no longer safe.

There are no longer any “off hours” from dealing with the social maelstrom of adolescence.

Tragically this has led to the ultimate horror, teen suicide. The numbers are mounting, but two come immediately to mind. There was a young girl in Missouri a few years ago who was bullied over Facebook, and more recently a young man took his own life at Rutgers University in New Jersey after being videotaped in embarrassing circumstances.

I did not have to face this as a parent, since my children pre-date the social media explosion. But for the parents of children today, I wish you the strength, the courage, the endurance to help your children navigate through these terribly dangerous waters. Support their sense of self, help them to understand the importance of making good choices, and above all, keep the conversation flowing.

Yesterday Tilly Bud at the Laughing Housewife posted the video that ends this blog post. I thank her for bringing it to my attention.

A young Canadian girl, Amanda Todd, fell into the web that is on the dark side of the internet. She made a bad choice, and it triggered events that spun out of control.

She tells her story silently in this video. She posted this in September. And last week she died. Suicide. Incredibly sad. Incredibly powerful.

If you have any children in your life, you can’t afford not to watch it.

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29 thoughts on “Cyber-bullying: A Dark Side of Technology

    • The two cases that I referred to in Missouri and New Jersey were both taken to court, and I remember several more as well. In each case the charges were greatly debated, as to what exactly can the bullies be charged with. It is evolving, I guess.

  1. Tourism Oxford says:

    I don’t feel comfortable clicking the “like” button for this topic. However, this is an important subject that needs to be talked about. It’s such a tragic story.

  2. Wow. Such scary stuff. Heard about some teenager on the news last week who committed suicide due to bullying and just didn’t get it. This brought the message home. Very sad. Social media should take responsibility for some stuff and allow people to report abuse and victimisation. Some do this already I think, but they should start a campaign against this. It is unacceptable. Thanks for sharing this.

    • It is shocking to think how this goes on everyday, in every school. If we can’t stop the bullies, I hope that there are efforts to help teach kids how to cope with such circumstances.

  3. Yesterday at the conference I attended they talked a lot about social media and how it is literally by the people for the people. It is also self-regulatory and society and people get people back in line and tell them what is acceptable and not. I see a group have named the alleged perpetrator who is a man in his 30s (pervert!!) so hopefully he will be charged. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/10/15/bc-amanda-todd-tormentor-anonymous.html

    • Yes. I’m afraid there will always be mean people. Children have to learn how to handle themselves online so that they can avoid this dark side, and if confronted by teasing peers, learn how to cope with that as well.

  4. Daniela says:

    I cannot begin to tell you how very sad I am … there is so much loneliness, so much pain, and she was only a child … child crying out for help and to think that there was no one there for her! What a world have we built for our children … after all where are the adults?
    Thank you for posting this,
    Daniela

    • It is horrible and even more so when we recognize that this girl is not unique. Unfortunately there are many many others who are suffering with this right now. It takes the difficult adolescent years to a whole new level.

  5. This is so sad! My niece was telling me that she actually has no ‘real’ friends. All her friends are people she has met online. It is so concerning because itnis so easy to fool these young people about your identity and intentions. Parents of teenage children really have their work cut out for them.

    • It is a worry. When my oldest started college he told me how he would be emailing papers to the professors and I said (so wise am I) …. “no way!” I didn’t see it coming. It’s a good thing I don’t have to parent in these years, I’m afraid I would miss things with all this social media. It’s so hard to keep up!

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