Johnny always seems to be on his computer. If not the computer, then he’s on his phone. At the dinner table. In the car on the drive to school. I ask him what he’s doing. Nothing. Who are you texting? Nobody. As soon as I walk into his bedroom he changes whatever screen he’s looking at. I leave and he goes back to what he’s doing. I want to know what he’s up to. Something doesn’t feel quite right. I need to find out but where do I even start?
In the past few years, smartphones have given us instant access to an online presence, created through social media platforms that are readily available with one click of an app. As adults, we utilise this ease of access to gain valuable information for work, quickly jumping online to find an answer on Google, to keep abreast of trending news reports or to find the nearest hip café for our daily coffee fix. For the younger generation however, social media platforms has created an unhealthy obsession, with teenagers fixated on their online presence all for the wrong reasons. What are we teaching future generations about the good the bad and the ugly of the World Wide Web? In the case of today’s teenager, it’s difficult for parents to monitor, or even understand what their kids are doing with the time they spend on the computer or their smartphone. Although advancements in technology has made communication quicker and easier, how are we communicating the dangers we could face online and what action to take if we are caught up in it happening?
Past research has shown many users who spend a lot of time on Facebook, use the site as a way of gaining attention and boosting their self-esteem. Yet we see time again the reverse effect it has on people, especially the younger generation. Survey’s conducted revealed participants reported difficulty relaxing and sleeping after they used their social media sites, with others feeling worried or uncomfortable when they were unable to log in to their social media accounts.
On top of these damaging psychological effects, parents also have another major concern for their kids: cyberbullying. The majority of social networking users are under the age of 30, with an estimated 71% of teenagers using Facebook. Teenagers can often use social media and text messages to bully classmates away from the eyes of school teachers and parents. In a similar fashion, teenagers can also use smartphones and social media to organise misbehaviour, like large parties, underage drinking or even drugs. Would you know the tell-tale signs that your child is subject to vicious online attacks or participating in illegal activity? Or would you know if they were in fact the bully, using their social media accounts to taunt another person?
If your answer is no, you’re not alone. Our team are often contacted by distressed parents, vulnerable and unsure what they can do to help. If you have any concerns about the online behaviour of your child, please contact Meridian Services. Our team will work with you closely, ensuring a high level of safety for your child and peace of mind that their online presence is acceptable. Together we can put a stop to online bullying.