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Miss Misanthropist

Writing With Myself

The Internet is NOT a babysitter

Opinions/AdviceMonica EdwardsComment

I've been wanting to write something about this for a while but haven't gotten around to it until now. Then I saw something last night that reminded me how much I wanted to write about this. 

There was a post floating around tumblr telling people to "remember" that sometimes when they play violent, online games, that there may be a 10-13 year old kid trying to play online as well. Which means that they should be "nice" and try to curb their "trash talk" and other violent language because blah blah blah "not nice to bully ten year olds". Which I agree with, to a point. I mean I would never leave my house, find a elementary school, and shove around a 10 year old myself. However, being online in an MMORPG setting is entirely different. Mostly because you can't really tell who's there at any given time and a lot of times (at least when I've played) people don't have microphones hooked up so it's hard to tell from their very adult avatars what their age could possibly be. 

This person was asking people to remember this because of their little brother who "takes a lot of things to heart" when he's online playing Call Of Duty or some other game that a 13 year old really shouldn't be playing because it's not even close to being approved for his age range. Don't get me wrong I'm not strict about that, at all, cause I think 16 year olds would be fine with that content, maybe even 15 if they are well adjusted, MAYBE, but seriously, a 13 year old? The problem is that a lot of parents now just allow this to happen because it's easier to let that (or just the general internet) take care of their kids instead of being actual parents. 

I'm constantly astounded by the number of kids, and I do mean kids, not teens, who have smartphones. Really? Does your 10 year old need that? I get that it may be good for them to have a cellphone if they are in trouble or have an emergency but do they need a 900 dollar iPhone 7? Since when was that a good idea? Not to mention the high school kids who have them and think they are entitled to have them, including during class. This girl refused to put her phone away because she didn't think it was fair, until the principal and police were called. There was outrage over the "brutality" of this but no one points out how much she was warned until police were called. All she really had to do was put her phone away but her self entitled teenage brain told her that she was right and all the adults were wrong. 

Then of course you have social media sites with 13-16 year olds running rampant in echo chambers of stupidity that would make your brain hurt. Why do you think transgender became a fad? A place called tumblr, where all the little girls and boys can hang out and be validated. They are told they are "special" and given a very vague list for the criteria of autism. Then they self diagnose, are told that their own diagnosis is more valid than a professional's, use this to threaten, harass, and act like little cyber terrorists and cry when an adult tells them off because "OMG SOMEONE IS NOW HARASSING A MINOR!"

The way children and teens talk to adults now is fucking alarming. I mean it's shit that I wouldn't have even thought to say when I was a kid or a teen and trust me, I was a super asshole "2edgy" type teenager. It seems that there is an overabundance of parents who have decided that the internet is now 100% safe, their kids are 100% smart and won't do dumb shit, and they have decided to take away all of the nanny watch programs and just say "To hell with it, go have fun on a website where you can easily find a shit ton of porn for free because tumblr doesn't have any safe search options either". 

Not that porn is super awful, but the point is that I certainly wouldn't want my 11 year exposed to that if I wasn't around to answer questions or explain shit to them. Or possibly at all. They are 11. Why should they have free reign of a website with not only that type of content but also the real gore stuff? The crimescene stuff? The dead body and graphic stuff? The blogs that glorify the Columbine shooters and write fan fiction for the Boston Marathon bombers! This is the website parents are allowing their kids to get on all the fucking time because...what reason now? Where are they? Why aren't they at least checking into what their kids are doing? I don't mean snooping to a high level but if I was a parent I'd certainly get on my kid's computer once in a while and browse their internet history and fuck you if you think there's something wrong with that. 

Parents are so completely hands off with the internet at this point. I've been attacked by 13 and 14 year old kids on my youtube. Speaking to me in a way I'd have never thought to speak to someone I knew was an adult. Even when I was that age. Even worse, it's overly apparent that this hands off level of parenting is causing death. What do I mean? Well I'll show you what I mean. 

Here we have a case of a girl who shot herself in front of her family over cyberbullying. Yes it's sad no one is saying it's not sad, however if you read the article it is very telling. The parents knew this was going on, for a long time, and they still allowed her online and obviously unsupervised. They got her new phones, switched her phone numbers, and still she was being bullied. They knew it was happening on facebook and via other online methods. Instead of saying to their child, "You know what, you aren't getting on the internet any more" they just let her keep going on the internet to get harassed. They also, apparently, didn't even look into facebook privacy methods or locking down her account. They filed police reports but didn't do much beyond that. However, intervention in this case would have helped SO much. The parents failed to realize that if she was being bullied on the internet, they should take away her damn internet. Yeah, I know, she'd TOTALLY hate them because OMG NOT FAIR but in the grand scheme of things, removing her from the internet while this was happening would have limited her exposure to the bullying and while that was going on they could have looked into professional therapy. Not to mention they could have actually done the research of who was doing this and take care of it that way. None of this was done. It doesn't even seem the parents had the right idea to tell her "just sign off" or "don't look at facebook". Like...are you serious? 

There's also the case of this girl. Her name was Amanda Todd. She ended up drinking bleach after posting a youtube video about how she was being cyber bullied and cyber stalked. Apparently at some point she did a skype video chat with a guy and got naked and he had screenshots of her naked. He used this as fuel to blackmail and harass her into doing what he wanted. Her parents moved to different cities, tried to stop the harassment, but one thing they kept allowing, WAS HER ACCESS TO THE INTERNET! For one, I don't know how a girl that age had such free reign of the internet that she was doing peep shows on skype for anyone without getting caught so that's part of the problem, but another part of the problem is THEY KEPT LETTING HER GET ONLINE! Are you kidding me? Yes I "get" that kids "need" to get online or else they are "uncool" but in this obviously serious matter, why the fuck would keep letting her do that? Not to mention she had a youtube channel and posted a video about how she was going to kill herself, right before she did it. Where were her parents then? How did they not see her channel, blog, video? Like....they knew that the source of her torment was the internet and yet  not once did it cross their minds to check what the fuck she was doing on the internet or prevent her from getting on it entirely. 

No one is saying it isn't sad that these girls died or felt the need to commit suicide because of their torment but there's only so much sadness you can feel for people who can't sign offline when they realize that's the source of their torment. Or the parents who can't tell their kids to get off the computer (or restrict their internet) because....god only knows what reason. This isn't even the only two cases of this happening. You can find many more. Here are some stunning statistics about cyber bullying and the activities of young teens online. There's been a documentary about it happening. Rape cases that also included cyber bullying and suicide.

I'm wondering when the mentality changed. A lot of parents raising kids now are my age (or younger) who grew up with the constant lectures of the dangers of the internet. People who should be well aware of how bad the internet can be for a young teen or young adult. People who had to put up with massive amounts of nanny software and parental controls. Where was the shift? When did people who grew up with the "horrors" of the internet, decide that the internet was now an entirely safe place for their teen to have free reign of? What was the first thing I was taught about the internet?

  • Never use your real name
  • Don't give your address or phone number
  • Don't post pictures of yourself
  • Don't share personal information

We were all told this repeatedly. Obviously a lot of us ignored this rule, but I think most of us had a better grasp on internet safety than kids are being taught now. Even worse, websites like facebook and twitter will post your location when you make a post on websites so if someone wants to stalk your ass they are stalking you. In a lot of cases you have to specifically turn off these features because they do it automatically. What are teens doing today, though?  

  • 91% have posted a photo of themselves online
  • 71% have posted their school name
  • 71% have posted the city or town they live in
  • 53% have posted email addresses
  • 20% have posted cell phone numbers

Isn't this a bunch of shit you aren't supposed to do as a teen? I get it, social media is much bigger than it used to be, but at the same time, there are ways to lock down facebook, to monitor it, to prevent people from seeing what you are posting. If you were to find my facebook now and you aren't a friend of mine you'd be able to see very little information due to privacy settings. It's like parents are either unaware that that stuff exists or they don't even care about it and assume facebook of all places, the website that sells your information to companies for data reasons, is going to be safe for their kid to hang out on. 

The internet, for some reason, has become a right instead of a privilege for teenagers. Many teenagers have their own computers in their own rooms with their own high speed internet hook up. Many parents seem to not even bother checking just for 5 minutes to see what their kid is doing. There is software available to limit internet exposure, there are blocking methods, and there's even the old fashioned practice of having one family computer in a high traffic room that a kid has to use to access the internet so they won't be overly tempted to do dumb shit online. As sad as it is that kids and teens are cyber bullying and stalking other teens, it's more sad that parents seem to be insanely oblivious to what's going on with their kids to a point where it's ending in suicide.