Since studying more about the Internet in the last few months, I have read quite a bit of research conducted by danah boyd. Recently, she wrote a blog post about cyberbullying. I encourage you to read the links she has attached to it; they are very thought provoking. At the risk of doing her writing an injustice, I will summarise her meaning very briefly. Her new paper is the result of research into the rhetoric used when adults talk about bullying and how this can cause teenagers to disassociate themselves from the idea that they are being ‘bullied’ or are ‘bullying’ others. ‘Drama’ has become the more empowering term they use. As I have said, please read danah’s blog post to understand it as it is intended.
Bullying – whether it is online or not – is such a big fear of mine. I have always tried to build both my daughters’ self esteem up so that they will have the ability to cope with future difficulties. Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily work. They could become the most confident teenagers in the world, but it only takes one snide comment to take all of that away when you are young and confused about your place in the world. What is the answer?
This subject also brings me to a question I have always agonised over (and of course this does not require any REAL answer): Would I rather my child be bullied or be a bully? (Obviously, “neither” is the preferred option).
“Why on earth do you ask yourself that?”, I hear you say. To be honest, I don’t know. It is just one of the things I ponder over when I hear terrible cases of bullying. Of course no one wants their child to be bullied – but no one wants their child to bully others either. It can also have a snowball effect: those who are bullied may bully others in order to gain some sort of empowerment back.
Let me be clear – I have not done any of my own official research on this so I have no real ‘authority’ on it. I am going by my own observations in high school (yes, I can remember that far back, thank you! :-)). I know this for sure – I will be watching over anything my kids write on social media platforms they use as teenagers. I will be asking questions. I will be in their face. I will probably be annoying. I will definitely do something if I find out they are being bullied.