The Brave New World

So today I became part of a heated debate.   I usually steer clear of these kinds of things on the internet, but today I couldn’t resist.   This morning I was flipping through Facebook and I saw an ad for an app in which you can install on your phone that can monitor your children’s activities on their cell phones. You can see your child’s text messages, social media sites, emails, etc.
I happen to click on the comments and this woman was making very condescending and judgmental comments.  She felt as if you couldn’t trust your children then they shouldn’t have a cell phone. And by snooping at what they were up to, you were destroying the trust you have between you and your child.  I actually agree with her too a certain extent.  I do believe if you can’t trust your children they should not have a cell phone.  I also agree with her that snooping does harm a relationship between parent and child and should be avoided.  However, if it was all that easy I do believe the teenage years would be the easiest time to raise a child.  Yet, that is not so.

The truth is a lot of children need phones.  It is not a want, but a necessity.  Children go off to school while the parent(s) go off to work.  After school the kids either go on to some activity or go home to an empty house, because mom and/or dad are not home yet.  The cell phone is one of the few ways a parent can easily and quickly get a hold of their child to know where they are, how they are doing, etc.

We would all like to think our children are going to be 100% open and honest with us, but reality is that is not so.  Whether it is not giving every detail about something, hiding the truth, or full out lying, some form of deception is being done.  Think about when you were a teenager; did you tell your parents everything?  Think about your own adult life.  I am sure there are things you keep to yourself.  Now is that bad thing, no.  Shouldn’t teenagers have that same respect applied to them? Yes.  Unfortunately, in today’s world it goes a little deeper than that.

Between the cyber bullying, the pressures of sex, drinking, and drugs our kids have a whole new world of problems to deal with that we didn’t have to.  Of course there was always the pressure to try something or do something illicit, however in today’s world the minute you do or don’t something, it is documented for the entire world to know until the end of time.  There is no getting around it, hiding from it, or denying it.  Kids will bully and torture other kids via text messages and all of the social media outlets.  It is devastating how kids can tear each other down and it is more disturbing at what lengths the victim will go to end it, including ending their own life.

While I do not want to know every little thing that goes on in Liam and Ava’s life, I am still their parent.  I need to look out for them and protect them to the best of my abilities.  It would be naive for me to sit here and think that Liam and Ava would always come to me if something upsetting in their lives were happening.  Teenagers by nature think they know it all and many times try to fix it.  Other times they are just too embarrassed or hurt to say anything.  While I do not think this app should be used as a 24 hour monitoring device for your child.  It would be most helpful to check in once in a while to make sure nothing detrimental is happening.  Of course like anything else this app needs to be used wisely and with discretion.

I will end with these few statistics.

“Despite the potential damage of cyber bullying, it is alarmingly common among adolescents and teens. According to Cyber bullying statistics from the i-SAFE foundation:

  • Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying.
  • More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyber threats online.
  • Over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet.
  • Well over half of young people do not tell their parents when cyber bullying occurs.

The Harford County Examiner reported similarly concerning cyber bullying statistics:

  • Around half of teens have been the victims of cyber bullying
  • Only 1 in 10 teens tells a parent if they have been a cyber bully victim
  • Fewer than 1 in 5 cyber bullying incidents are reported to law enforcement
  • 1 in 10 adolescents or teens have had embarrassing or damaging pictures taken of themselves without their permission, often using cell phone cameras
  • About 1 in 5 teens have posted or sent sexually suggestive or nude pictures of themselves to others
  • Girls are somewhat more likely than boys to be involved in cyber bullying

The Cyberbullying Research Center also did a series of surveys that found these cyber bullying statistics:

  • Over 80 percent of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most popular form of technology and a common medium for cyber bullying
  • About half of young people have experienced some form of cyber bullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly
  • Mean, hurtful comments and spreading rumors are the most common type of cyber bullying
  • Girls are at least as likely as boys to be cyber bullies or their victims
  • Boys are more likely to be threatened by cyber bullies than girls
  • Cyber bullying affects all races
  • Cyber bullying victims are more likely to have low self esteem and to consider suicide”

(http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/cyber-bullying-statistics.html)

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