“Have you heard about Kim?
Did she kiss him and cry?
Did he pin the pin on?
Or was he too shy?”
–from Bye Bye Birdie
If only social networks in high school were this innocent. My cousin born the same month and year as my daughter doesn’t have a Facebook account because it’s too dangerous socially, emotionally, and sometimes physically for teens who get caught up in FB drama.
I told her about pseudonyms and only inviting people you explicitly trust (like family and non-school friends), IF she wants to.
I’m proud of her for not getting involved in that mess, but highly disappointed that she even has to make the choice.
Though I’m certain that wherever there are teenagers working through their development there will be some amount of drama, the levels experienced in institutionalized schools with the added pressure of social media tends to escalate and enhance what once was an annoyance, or less seldom a permanent form of social humiliation. There are teens bullied at school who never feel safe, even after leaving campus, because the shaming, belittling, and even threats of violence continue online. And horrors abound if a student is caught on camera phone doing something embarrassing — what once would be forgotten in minutes or days, can last months or more as an Internet meme or YouTube video.
I’m not saying homeschoolers are inherently better people (poor socialization, cruelty, and in humane treatment of peers can happen anywhere given certain factors), but I do suggest that the current environment of public, and even private education, mixed with easy access to technology and social media, creates more opportunities for, and perpetuation of, digital bullying.