Recently my coworker and I were having a discussion about her granddaughter who is in the 7th grade. She is on the basketball team and a girl on the team had a birthday party but didn't invite a few of the girls. After seeing posts all over social media about the party, the granddaughter was pretty upset. There was no bullying going on, but she was still hurt that she wasn't invited. It got me to thinking about kids these days in regards to social media.
Social media is great for keeping people in touch. Being away from family, I love that they're still able to watch Henry grow up. FaceTime has been one of my very favorite tools to connect with the Grandma's so that Henry gets to see them more often. But it saddens me to think how much social media has caused problems for kids growing up.
When I was in high school, things like Facebook and Twitter and Snapchat (I still don't understand Snapchat) didn't exist. I remember when Chatrooms came out (how old am I?!) and they were the coolest thing that had ever happened to us. But when we talked in chat rooms, we talked about what we did that day, or we relayed innocent gossip. Now the equivalent to chatrooms are so much more vicious- or kids are. I'm not naive enough to think that there weren't bullies when I was growing up. I was bullied once or twice myself. But it never seemed to reach the extent that it reaches now. Kids have access to one another 24/7. And that's scary.
I'm terrified of this world that Henry is growing up in where kids are just plain mean. Where they don't care about another life. Where the bullying doesn't stop once you get off the school bus. I know that bullying was mean when I was in high school. I can think of a couple kids off the top of my head that I know were bullied- and maybe it was worse than I knew. But to me it always seemed like a big brother/little brother bullying. We can pick on you, but no one else can and we'll defend you if they try. Perhaps that's not how it was at all and I'm kidding myself.
But it scares me to know that Henry could one day face bullying like this (or god forbid, BE the bully) and would be too scared or embarrassed to talk to me about it. I cannot imagine my son taking his life because the kids at school were so unkind. It hurts me to think about all of those kids who have felt that way, that there was no way out. How do we make it stop? How do we get back to the time when the jokes were in good fun and we were still supportive of one another? Is cutting out social media the answer? Or is it as simple as teaching our kids to be kinder to one another?