I love talking to our middle school children and building positive relationships with them so they feel safe and secure at school and while learning, but most are distracted with “last night on snap or I can’t wait to post this...”. Conflicts in school almost always begin with something that was said on social media. Come to think of it, I can’t remember the last issue that was just a school issue. Yes, there is bullying in school but it did not start in school, it started at home on their “smart” device. The bullying at school is result of what they read on social media posted by their peers and it all spirals from that “post”. Yes, we have normal bullying issues that we all went through in school and we all survived (unfortunate but it comes with middle school age) but that same bullying we got through is so escalated because it never dies down once it is “out there”. “Out there” needs to stop to begin to eliminate bullying.
My peers and myself work tirelessly to protect students from bullying. A lot of time we feel the same hurt these young kids feel because we are not in 2009 and we can not stop it (not by lack of trying). It is 2019 and educators can not control social media. We can educate students on how to use it correctly, but middle school kids live for the “streaks”, the “likes”, the “shares”. It is heartbreaking when I hear that a school does nothing about bullying, believe me we do everything within the means of the school walls to eliminate bullying but can not control “out there”.
Yes, I use social media to promote positive, to brag about my kids, to push out programs to help others, to organize events to bring the community together, but I am an adult who is using social media for what it was intended to be used for “networking”. Yes I have one “streak” with my daughter because it is a reminder that I love her (my boys are different- one rarely can find his phone and one would probably not snap me back lol).
Please monitor social media, educate kids on how “keyboard courage” is cowardly when used to hurt others, be aware of the apps your child uses. I don’t know how many times I call home and a parent says my kids phone is deactivated (apps work on WiFi and they can log on from any device and they can use their friends phones to log into their account) or what is SnapChat, etc. Be proactive instead of reactive. Do my kids have all those apps? Yes! Do I think they might be used inappropriately at time by them? Yes, they are kids, but if I find out-the device, the WiFi, other electronics will be removed until they are used appropriately.
Sorry for the long comment but if we want to lower the incidences of bullying at school, we have to work together to do it. At school we don’t monitor social media, but we are blamed when social media is the cause of bullying at school.
Let’s work as a team to reduce bullying so grades improve (because they are not preoccupied by what is going to be said about them on insta later that day), attendance will improve (because that insta post has them nervous about coming to school to see kids glare at them) and instances of anxiety will decrease (because these students have too much information available to them and it is too much for their young minds).
By Dr. Jessica Scott