Are We ALL Bullies At Some Point?

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.

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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.

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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.

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2 thoughts on “Are We ALL Bullies At Some Point?

  1. Hi Emily, I had to laugh at your description of how you felt when reading the “When Dad Banned Text Messaging” article. I wonder if there is a “bully” in this scenario. I agree that sometimes it seems like we try to label everything bullying. Sometimes reading these articles are like that, and the comments as enlightening as all the rest as to the variety of perspectives out there. Ultimately I particularly agree with your point 2, that students need to be educated about when it’s important to disconnect from the online world. I remember reading the article recommended for the course at the beginning which talked about the difference between Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, and that one of those differences would be that Digital Natives would view their online relationships as important as the in person ones. That point has always nagged at me, because in my own mind it is clear that no matter how important those relationships are, the nuanced face-to-face relationship is still king. Is it just because I’m a digital immigrant? Perhaps, but I think we have some wisdom to share with our students, and that we’ll need to educate them on when to turn on, and when to turn off.

  2. Hi Emily, I was just reading your blog and I agree that we need to have our kids see things from someone else’s perspective. I also liked Emily has presented her thoughts nicely that our kids are growing up in a different age than we grew, we didn’t have what they have. we should not be fighting just because thing are new to us, we should look at this from kid’s perspective also and kids need to be taught how to be good digital citizen while using these tools.

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