Do You Know A Girl Like That?

Do You Know A Girl Like That

The title of this article is derived from a movie that I finished watching for the second time. The title of that movie is “A Girl Like That,” which, you can seek out and watch on Netflix.

Having watched the movie twice now, truly had me thinking about decisions that each of us have made in regards to the young people in our lives. Almost everyone now days has a cell phone on them. This seems to be particularly so with teens. You can see it everywhere you look.

There either posting something on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and the dreaded SnapChat. Sometimes as parents we probably wonder what our children’s faces even look like since they normally are buried on one type of electronic device or another.

The Tragedy Starts Here

Everyone in today’s times has heard the term “bully’ and many schools have started campaigns against it. However, the truth remains that it still happens. It happens nearly every second of the day. Whether your child is in school or while they are at home.

But I’m going to ask a sobering question. Who really is at fault for this? Who was it that placed the electronic devices in the hands of our children. It sure wasn’t the fairy godmother. Nope!

It was each of us! Hold on a second, your shoes were not the only ones that just got! Do you know a girl like that? Whether it be the one who was doing the bullying or the one who was being bullied, each of us have come across someone in our paths who may resemble one or the other. What’s sad, is how often that as we are in our busy schedules, the activities that occur online with our teens seems to be overlooked.

Sure, we’re all well-meaning parents. Any of us who has ever purchased electronic devices has said how we would make sure we checked them for such activity. But let’s be realistic for a moment. How many of us actually do?

How many of us take time to ensure there are proper blocks set on our children’s electronics to block such activity? Granted, there isn’t an answer for every app or website that a teen can access, however, there certainly are measures that we can take to ensure that our children do not become prone to this type of behavior.

A Look At The Stats

A look at the stats on cyber bullying

This chart provides a little look into the major areas where we see the vast amount of bullying taking place. As  you can see, Facebook leads the way. However, there is one very popular app that isn’t listed and one that unfortunately has not tracking data to it. It’s called SnapChat. If you haven’t heard, it’s an app that you can send chats to your friends (which can include pictures) and then within seconds or a pre-determined time the chat history goes away. It’s become a huge phenomena amongst teens.

There are precautions that we as parents can take. First, you can configure their phone to not be able to access the app store by them. Thus if they need an app, they have to ask you to access the app store or iTunes to download it for them. Secondly, many of the larger cell phone carriers do offer services that you can block certain features and set restrictive time frames to them.

Of course, there is always the intrusive way. Certainly one that will have you catching the most grief from your teen or preteen. That involves you personally inspecting their phone and contents of their messages, Facebook activities and other item’s. I highly recommend that you check into whatever options are available to you.

You certainly don’t want your child or a child of someone you know winding up as a suicide number as the result of bullying. Believe when I say the threat is very real!

The Regrets I Have

I’m not even going to pretend to hide behind a curtain. I’m going to tell you right up front that putting electronics in the hands of my children was the worst decision I have made in my life. Even with me knowing what I know about the cyber-world. Of course even as parents, we can become the victims of bullying, even from those we are trying to protect from it. Come on now, how many of you have listened to the whiny, pushy request for a cell phone or tablet? I know I have had plenty of people tell me about this.

Of course each of us hear the same lines from our children, you know “please, I promise I won’t access anything that is nasty” or “I’m not like those other kids” and of course, as wanting to be the superheros in our children’s lives, we give in and put the potentially lethal devices in their hands.

In some cases, it is almost the same as putting a loaded gun into a child’s hands and asking them to play Russian Roulette. Sooner or later, someone is going to say something to them online that will forever change the course of their life. I have seen it happen to too many before.

What’s My Advice – Just Say No!

Easy for me to say now that its hind sight. But trust me, if I had the chance to do it again, there would not be any electronics in the hands of my children. I am personally responsible for unleashing a personal hell upon them. We as parents can stop the madness.

It’s time to get the word out! Cyber bullying is real! Don’t think for a second if your child has access to an electronic device that they have not been a victim of it or possibly even been the one dishing out the bullying.

There are certainly alternatives to being able to stay in communication with your children. First, install a home phone! It’s just as easy for you to call them on a home phone or vice versa.  And for those who are going to hand me the argument of they need a phone so you can stay in contact with them, then how about you go to the event with them. They’ll be right at your site.

But if there are no alternatives and you insist they have a phone, then know what apps are available to protect them. There are apps that track their exact location using the GPS on their phones, plus they can’t deactivate it without a parental password. Secondly, make it to where you have to download and approve all apps on their phones. This makes it difficult for them to go behind your back and install something that is less that safe or appropriate.

Contact your cell phone carrier and see what forms of security can be placed on your account. Such things as parental controls. For the extra $10 per month that it may cost, it may very well save the life of your child.

Now schools are issuing out Chrome Books and laptops to senior high students. Uggh! My suggestion is for you to not accept one. Contact your child’s school and tell them they will have to do their homework on paper, you know the old-fashioned way!

Until we begin taking control, this issues unfortunately will continue to grow! Make a stand with me and let’s all pledge to “Just Say No” to putting our children’s lives as risk.

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