Communication through technological devices such as cell phones and the Internet have paved the way for a quick and more efficient avenue to send ideas, messages, and information to contacts that take the highest priority in a person’s life.
Social networking sites have been very beneficial to people of all generations. They have provided a way for people to connect with old friends and family in a way that has never been done before.
The rise of cell phones has also given people a way to quickly contact others in emergency situations. It has given younger students a way to keep in touch with their parents before and after school. It helps them to let their parents know where they will be, and with whom.
The use of these communication devices, however, has not been all positive.
Cyber-bullying is the way students intimidate their peers by means of electronic communication. On a broader scale, cyber-bullying has the potential to have an even greater effect on a student’s psychological well-being.
When cyber-bullying occurs on social networking sites, it is seen by other students. Because of these potentially damaging effects, a student’s overall social well-being may influence the student’s academic success. This leads us to the question of who is ultimately responsible for not only the effects of cyber-bullying, but for preventing it, educating students regarding it, and disciplining those who commit it.
If a student’s academic progress is at stake, then it can be assumed the arrow of responsibility would point in the direction of the school administrator. When a student’s educational career is on the line, cyber-bullying comes to the forefront of a school administrator’s mind.
Schools may be in the midst of this battle of social media. However, it is not the first line of defense. The home front is by far the most important place a student can learn the proper tools of how to interact appropriately on the web or on their phone; and parents have the power to control that front.
The best mode of restraint as a parent is proactivity. Ultimately, it becomes imperative that parents understand what their kids are doing online. It is helpful to have some guidelines for parents to follow, such as:
1. Have internet filters on all computers.
2. Know all passwords for your kids technology devices. The rule of thumb is if it has access to the internet then you should be able to check it at any given time.
3. If your students are on Facebook or any social media, then BE THEIR FRIENDS!
4. Talk to your students about how many friends they have and who their friends are. Make sure their privacy settings on Facebook are set within your comfort level for THEIR safety.
5. Lastly, never feel you are invading their privacy. As their parent you have the right to be nosy.
There are countless other suggestions for parents that can be considered, but these are really important as we walk into a new generation of communication.
Eric Collins is the vice principal of Millswood Middle School