When you know a family that’s been victimized by cyberbullying, you take a closer, more personal look at this problem as both a parent and an IT professional.
As I was waiting for a flight home the week before last, I saw something on Facebook and had a sinking feeling. I knew the family through my affiliation with the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, and I had heard about a service earlier in the week for a young woman in our community, Mallory Grossman.
It was a suicide that came to a head because of cyberbullying. It brought home problem that is plaguing mostly youngsters but also people of all ages. The internet allows anyone to post the meanest messages imaginable and largely stay anonymous.
The solution is not a tech issue because this problem is rooted in how we function as a society. Some people have cruel senses of humor, and in the absence of personal filters, there are few filters to prevent them from spewing venomous posts. When the target of cyberbullying is experiencing other issues, which the bully likely doesn’t know about (and could selfishly care less), it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire.
I honestly don’t know what the answer is. As parents of two children approaching their teenage years, my wife and I are extremely concerned. Perhaps we need an even more concerted effort to provide better education for parents and students, and maybe that can be done through the school curricula in coordination with programs run by PTAs and/or business associations. The business associations can encourage their members to provide some kind of education program for their employees.
Technology measures by themselves will be ineffective for many reasons. Chief among them, very few parents have the capability to totally monitor and control their children’s online activity. Even for those of us who know a lot about technology, what will it accomplish? It won’t teach our kids about social responsibility. Instead, it will motivate them to find ways to break our technological measures, and kids in groups are pretty good at figuring out how to override our controls.
Further, what’s to stop any kid who has no access to some websites from going to a friend’s house and getting online there?
Any blocking we can do is ultimately temporary, but if it can be a sufficient delay to prevent just one tragedy, it helps. If you have any questions about what you can do and need any help in setting up parental controls, call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us. And that goes double for working together on what we really need to do as a community to fight cyberbullying.