Taylor Hillredge is a teenage girl who is being raised by her single mother. On her seventeenth birthday she receives her own laptop computer. Taylor is excited about the independence of being online to socialize with peers from school and her two best friends. It isn’t much later that Taylor finds herself being the victim of cyberbullying.
Kids these days live in a digital world. They are constantly being bombarded by messages and images, competing for the eye and ‘like’ of a user. This practice has crept into the way teens and people even socialize online. We want to see how many “followers” we can get, or how many “shares” or “likes” we can get on a pictures or comment. This competition has extended so far that people say things to add shock value and appeal, but all hidden behind anonymous names and profiles.
The film Cyberbully does a great job of working in all the hot button issues teens are facing currently including the anonymity that exists online, legal issues that enable cyberbullying, the social pressures of teens engaging in online and digital friendships and relationships, and the emotional problems that inflict the victims and their families.
Cyberbully is a great resource when talking to teens about the dangers that exist online. When talking to your teenagers about cyberbullying, establish the expectations in your home. Children’s moral qualities are shaped day by day by what we register, or failed to acknowledge, in the world around us, and what we ask them to register—whether we let them treat a store clerk as invisible or commented when a child on the playground had been treated unfairly, or pointed out to them neighbor’s good deed. We are constantly affecting their moral abilities by how we define responsibilities for others and by whether we insist that those responsibilities be met. Establish the expectation that when they see it happening, they have the power to stop it and make a change in their environment.
I believe that small acts are powerful. I believe that teenagers being raised today can change the world. The way they will change the world, is by changing one person’s life at a time and it starts with choosing to be kind, it starts with having the courage to stop cyberbullying and to open their mouths. So open your mouth and create a discussion. Create an environment where you can talk to your kids, grandkids, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews about the dangers online and the need to stop cyberbullying.