• Patrick McAndrew

It’s Always Bully O’Clock

High school is such a formidable time while growing up.  I personally loved high school and many people do, but there are also a huge handful of people who don’t.  And the talk of the town is that it has become a much more complicated arena.

Insider recently posted an article about a new series on A&E titled “Undercover High.”  The series is about seven young adults who go undercover as high school students at a high school in Kansas to learn how big a stress social media and smartphones play in the lives of high school students on a daily basis.

Cell phone use is running rampant and bullies are not only waiting for you by your locker anymore.  They are waiting online, ready to publicly oust you for the whole online public to see.  Instead of a bully or a couple of bullies picking on one victim, everyone can now weigh in on a hateful comment made at someone on social media.

Not only does this cause added stress and worry to students, but parents and teachers are not able to keep up or even truly understand all the intricacies that go into this online world.  While teachers are trying to give their lessons, there can be an online war going in between two or more of the students in the class.

As I talked about in my last post, comparison is also an issue, in that students will compare themselves to their more “beautiful” and “lavish” classmates.  As quoted in the article, “It’s given them a completely unrealistic, warped view of life.”

It’s important to note that this technology is not like technologies of the past.  Cyberbullying did exist back in the instant messenger days for sure, but such technology was limited to a computer and wasn’t always on you (remember those cheesy away messages…good times).

Social media and smartphone usage has become such a staple within the fabric of the next generation.  My concern is that today’s teenagers are always online to a point where it will be difficult to go back.  So much of their lives are now lived online and perhaps more of their interactions happen through a screen than face-to-face.  There needs to be some form of education advocating for moderation.  This is difficult, however, as many high schools are enthusiastic about new access to technological tools for the classroom.  Not only that, but parents want their kids to have phones “in case of an emergency.”

I would argue that, despite all the conveniences that technology has given us, it’s made us all a little more on edge.  What use to be a “Have fun riding your bikes!  Just be home for dinner!” has turned into tracking where your children are at all times.  What use to be writing notes in class has turned into endless text messaging and social media frenzy.  At least teenagers would write when they wrote notes!

The question is how do we best serve the kids?  Obviously, we don’t want to rob them of all the great things technology has to offer.  But, at the same time, the abuse of technology has led to very serious issues that are putting students in danger.  I suppose it’s a question of if they are in more danger with their devices or without their devices.

What do you think?  How do we combat these issues?  How do we best serve the teenagers of today?  Comment below!


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