Watchful Parenting – Can Parents Prevent Cyber-Bullying?

While surfing the Web I came across story after story of teens who were victims of cyber-bullying. The statistics are alarming! Throughout every article or video they showed the children involved in the cyber-bullying, and what legal actions were taking place, but I didn’t see anyone question the lack of parenting. I may catch a lot of flak over this, but the truth is the truth: Where is/was the parental supervision?

After the cyber bullying happens, is when the questions and tears arise. The could have, should have’s, I didn’t knows are uttered, and the parents(usually of the victim) become pro-active on the issue. No one candidly asks the parents why. Why were they unaware their teen was involved in a cyber-bullying situation. Why didn’t they check their teen’s phones/computers for possible indications. Why isn’t anyone charging the parents for lack of supervision? The parents on both sides of the cyber-bullying issue are to blame for lack of watchful parenting.

Watchful Parenting: Very necessary!

Many parents have very busy lives but can they be so far removed from their teen’s lives so as not to see their teen is depressed, not having a good day, troubled or afraid? Didn’t they notice their teen was suddenly becoming an introvert, refusing to go to school or participate in school activities? Did they not notice the excessive amount of time their teen spent texting? These are a few of the tell-tale signs your teen may be a victim of cyber bullying. As a parent, it is your duty to be well-informed of your teen’s cell-phone activity. Ask questions (non-invasively). Talk with them, listen for clues such as “Oh, that B&^%, I hate her!” or “She’s so mean.” Pay attention when they mention someone who talks negatively about them or one of their friends. Don’t assume your job is done when you pay the cell phone bill!! Take notice of which numbers are frequently texted. Some carriers may even offer Detailed Billing services, allowing you to see the time, date and place the text was sent. If anything looks out of the ordinary, discuss it with your teen and discuss again until you are sure you have all the facts!

3,000 texts a month!

According to studies done by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, ½ of teens send at least 1,500 texts a month, and one in three send more than 100 texts a day, or more than 3,000 texts a month! Between the internet and cell phones, teens communicate instantaneously. One teen armed with a cellphone can spark a fire as quickly as the flick of a lighter.

They are so attached to their cellphones and social networking sites, such as MySpace, Aim and Twitter, that they fail to develop social skills associated with face-to-face interactions. The number of friends and enemies your teen can make are infinite. The ultimate remedy? Attentive, watchful parenting mixed thoroughly with communication. Constant communication and bonding with your teen. It is up to us, the parents to guide them on the path to being well-rounded adults with at least an inkling of how human relationships work!

My 15 yr. old has a MySpace, Aim and Twitter account, on a regular basis I check her friend lists, what she has posted, who’s following her, etc. Of course, she argues with me. Yes, she feels as if she doesn’t have any privacy, however at 15 she has no choice. The “oh, Mom, c’mon, really?! I’m not doing anything wrong!” attitude surfaces and my reply is always the same, if you’re not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to hide. In the end, I win all the way around. Not only am I keeping her safe, I am also aware of who are her online friends, enemies and frenemies!

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