I think the term “bully” is overused sometimes. It reminds me of what happened in the States with ADHD. All of a sudden, every child and their brother is diagnosed with ADHD because they have a little energy. Danah Boyd’s article, “Bullying” Has Little Resonance with Teenagers, addresses the complexity of bullying and what it actually means. This is part of the problem. Bullying means different things to different people.
I agree with Boyd in that kids shut down when they hear adults start to lecture them about bullying. Everyone thinks they aren’t a bully, even the bullies, ESPECIALLY the bullies. So how should we attack this problem? Teach empathy. Switch places. As Boyd says, we need to have kids see things from someone else’s perspective.
NY Times article, When Dad Banned Text Messaging, really took me for a loop. At first, I was on the daughter’s side, then on mom’s side, then on dad’s side, then I started to read all the comments and I felt bad for the author, Tara Parker-Pope, as everyone felt they could judge her as a mother and a person. As I now stand on the pulpit, here are a few of my thoughts:
1) Our kids are growing up in a different age than we grew up in–they are living and breathing the digital age. For many of us, we didn’t grow up with computers and certainly not texting. Our kids, on the other hand, can’t imagine a world without it. When are we going to stop fighting things that are foreign to us just because WE didn’t use them?
2) Kids need to be taught how to be good digital citizens. Part of that is leading a balanced life. Just as it is rude and disrespectful to look away while someone is talking to you, it is also rude to be having a virtual conversation while you are having a physical conversation with another person. This may not, unfortunately, be common sense to some kids, so we better make sure we teach it. It’s vital to ‘disconnect’ from our online living every now and again in order to stay connected to other real, live, breathing human beings.