Think back to when you were a child, I bet there is a fair amount of people who were bullied. We seem to forget that bullying is nothing new. Bullying is about power, it’s about making the bully feel good as much as it’s about making the bullied child feel hopeless and worthless. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that in this age of technology bullying has so much power that it could make a child commit suicide. The computer is not the problem, the problem is that people hide behind a screen and feel entitled and empowered by this sort of protection to say whatever they will – their words are the real issue. I’m one of those who don’t believe it’s guns that kill people, rather it’s the person behind the gun that’s the problem. Growing up, when you were bullied you told your parents, you had a fight or you just hid behind the other children to stay out of sight. Now though, virtual words typed on a keyboard have so much strength that they make a child feel there is nothing else they can do but tie something around their neck and hang from the highest point they can get to. Have we birthed children that have no backbone? Have we neglected our duties as parents so much that we can’t see the signs? Are we not able to hear our children calling us for help? I believe that technology takes away the ability for children to learn how to socialize. These days, when you look at kids, even when they are in a group, their eyes are constantly on their phones so they don’t really socialize anymore. This new generation of kids take it as the norm to be isolated rather than to socialize and make friends with their peers.
There must be signs that parents don’t see when their child gets to the point where they feel hopeless and alone in their fight. I imagine the signs are there but they are hidden behind a façade of happiness. Maybe they try to be happy. If they are introverted within their family circle, they all of a sudden become extroverted outside of it. A child who doesn’t talk much becomes loquacious, whereas a talker becomes suddenly quiet. There are always signs, but we are missing them because we are so wrapped up in our own lives. No-one can accept the fact that an adult has contributed to the death of their child. Nevertheless, it’s time us parents take some responsibility for sticking a phone or a tablet into our children’s hands as soon as they can hold them. It seems like phones and tablets have become the new pacifier, one that takes away some of the parental duties that kids need the most and which should come in the form of interaction. Interaction is very, very important for a child’s growth as it gives them the confidence to deal with all types of situations. Interaction is a confidence booster that the new generations lack more and more and this lack means that parents see their children but they do not really know them. The distance between parents and children is wide and when parents realize what is going on with their children it is too late. The children have buried themselves into so much grief that pulling them back out would require a miracle. Miracles do happen, but how often? Not too often.
I truly believe it’s our duty as parents to ensure that in the future technology loses some of the power it has gained so far. We must teach our children exactly what the power of words is. Children must be told of experiences that parents have had, so they know their folks can relate. Parents must find the time to interact with their children on a regularly basis and tell them they understand their challenges and are open to discussing them together. Is that going to be easy? No, it won’t be a simple task, but you have to keep trying. Children have to know their parents won’t be judgmental, but understanding, so they can try to find a solution together. It’s easy to take away their computers or monitor the time they spend online, but that doesn’t mean they will get enough attention from you. Where is the interaction? Parents, you must be ready to bare your soul to your child and keep trying over and over again. A child needs to feel all the attention they feel they aren’t getting from you. A example of what I’m talking about is when your child comes home from school and you ask “How was school?”. You don’t just settle for “Okay”, that is not good enough because what does that tell you? Nothing at all. It will take time and you will get frustrated, but you have to keep trying, without pushing too hard. Don’t give up. I just don’t want to read about another child taking their life over some words they found on a computer screen. Remember that bullying can only go as far as your child lets it and it’s really up to you to equip them with the tools to fight back.