We have an epidemic on our hands right now and we need leaders to step up to the plate.
Ummm parents, I'm talking to YOU.
Do you know what your child put on the internet last night? Do you know what was said to them on the internet last night? Are you aware of the XXX videos they have free access too? Do you know what they searched for this afternoon?
If you said 'NO' to any of these questions, we seriously need to chat. I receive over 100 emails per day from youth reaching out to share just how difficult things are for them right now. The vast majority state to me that it's because of the internet with cyberbullying. When I ask them if their parents are aware, they always say 'NO'. WHY IS THAT???
When did society change from having nightly meals as a family to giving a child access to the internet and telling them to entertain themselves while fending for themselves for dinner?
Why are we allowing children to have access to anything they want on the internet but not having the important conversations with them afterwards to make them aware of what REALITY actually is. Have you noticed a spike in youth sexual assaults? CBC just reported this the other day. Our children are watching XXX porn on the internet with no understanding on what they are actually watching. They believe what they are seeing is reality and considered a 'healthy relationship'. I believe there is a direct correlation between the two.
Did you know that there are youth right now that believe there is a 'bogey man' on the internet that will come and cause them harm if they don't do something bad to someone else first? Slenderman. Thats it's name. Check it out. Youth honestly believe this is something real. If only an adult checked their child's phone, they could have seen this and had an important conversation.
Recently I saw a youth post a selfie of himself for the world to see and then put the caption 'fag' underneath it. Do you see something wrong with this? I sure do. This youth is 13 years old and using that language. Again, if only a parent had been monitoring this child's social media presence, this could have been corrected. This young person had NO IDEA that if he had left that post there, the implications it would have had on his future. Do you think a potential job would hire him? Don't worry, I took care of it.
If you honestly believe that bullying, mental health or anything else negative won't happen to you or your family, please take your head out of the sand and look around. This is our new reality and until adults start stepping up to the plate, it's going to continue.
Folks, I can only imagine how difficult parenting is but that doesn't mean we can just let our children run wild on the internet. You MUST be a parent. This isn't 'spying', this is being a responsible adult who is being proactive in monitoring how your child is interacting with others. I suggest randomly checking their phone at least once a week. Go into their chats, snapchats, group chats, profiles, photos and their search history. YES they will probably learn to hide a lot of things from you but what you will see will certainly give you a good idea.
We all want to trust our children of course and the internet can be an amazing place while also being a frightening place. With the right tools, knowledge and guidance, we can show our youth the right ways to go about moving forward together.
Bullying is EVERYWHERE. When it does happen to you, before you go pounding on a Principals desk, talking to the media or blaming the Police, take a look in the mirror and reflect on what you could/should have done. Parents are the first line of defence and as I always say, bullying will not start/end on a school yard....it will start/end at home.
This post isn't meant to frighten you, it's meant to be a wake up call. It's time for ALL PARENTS to step up and get back to being a parent...not a best friend.