By Paul Grossinger
Rehtaeh Parsons. Hannah Smith. Rebecca Ann Sedwick. Gabrielle Molina. Each tragic teen death from cyberbullying causes reminds us that digital bullying is one of the most significant threats to teen mental stability in the world today.
Think that is a dramatic statement? Think again. Mobile cyberbullying, which is when children bully other children through text messages and messages through smart apps such as Oovoo, Skype, Snapchat, and Facebook Messenger, is dangerous because teens feel under attack 24/7. They are not just bullied from 8am to 4pm in school, which is what happened when we were kids, and granted a recuperative reprieve in the evenings and on weekends. Instead, they are bullied in school and out; subjected to in-person viciousness during the way and hateful messages at night.
Indeed, news sources reporting on the Hannah Smith and Rebecca Ann Sedwick cases indicated that both girls regularly received messages such as “you are ugly” and “you should kill yourself” before taking their own lives.
Tolerating such behavior by kids is unacceptable in our society. It is imperative that both guardians and educators do more to teach kids early that bullying – especially 24/7 bullying – is very wrong and can cause consequences they will regret for the rest of their lives.
But efforts cannot stop at awareness. Parents need concrete, real tools to monitor and protect their teens so they actually know what is going on and can exercise effective prevention. In fact, Rebecca Ann Sedwick’s mother stated that she used to watch her daughter’s cellphone and Facebook but still remained unaware of the extend of the attacks on her daughter.
That has put parental control in the spotlight. Guardians are beginning to look for ways to actively monitor their children’s digital usage in the same 24/7 way that the bullying actually occurs. MMGuardian Parental Control, which gives guardians the ability to choose words or phrases (such as suicide, hate, and kill yourself, for example) to monitor in their children’s incoming or outgoing messages and sends alerts to the parent, is one option of this level of protective monitoring.
Cyberbullying violence is growing worse each year. Parents and guardians must act: both collectively to reduce overall cyberbullying and individually to protect their own children’s safety.