Why Parents Should Not Be Held Responsible for Adolescents’ Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying commonly affects teenagers when online communication becomes prevalent as technology develops. They feel important to stay connected with friends online in order to gain peer acceptance while their online behaviors are influenced by friends and peers significantly. Instead of listening to their parent’s advice, they do what their friends do or told them to do. They want to be independent and do not need adults' intervention. Many of them have even used fake identities online when using abusive language or conducting inappropriate actions so they can avoid parents who try to snoop on their online behaviors. Besides, social networking companies have created a lot of opportunities for teenagers’ cyberbullying. They allow them to leave anything they want online without setting up filters to detect abusive language or behaviors they carry online. It promotes them to have more severe behaviors online since they think it is acceptable. For those who cyberbully or cyberbullied, schoolteachers should be more vigilant to spot the sign of both since there could have been a tall tale in the classroom. They should try to intervene before things go out of hand and educate parents on how to handle the situation. Parents no longer babysit their teenagers; they are not able to know their teenagers’ behaviors with them being resistant; they need assistance from others to put their teenagers under control. Hence, parents should not be held accountable for their teenagers’ cyberbullying.
Technology has become an essential part of people’s lives, and the internet has provided a new way for people to communicate. In modern society, nearly all teenagers have owned at least one electronic device, such as a cell phone, tablet, or even personal laptop. They like to carry them everywhere they go because being on the internet is a new way that they can interact with friends (McQuade III et al. 60). Online world is a fantasy to those teenagers. A lot of things they are banned from doing in real daily life, the online world provides them the opportunity to practice. Technology equips the Internet without borders, and Internet offers its teenage users no restrictions.
Just like the global social networking platform-Ask. fm, it provides a place online for “millions of Americans teens talk about their hookups, struggles to get good grades, and wild weekend parties with no parents or adults to peer over their shoulders” (Guynn and Stobart). A website like this opens its door to those teens who indulge themselves in the online world. It does not set boundaries and restrictions for its users. It is like a “feeding frenzy in shark-infested waters without a cage” (Guynn and Stobart). Ask. fm even allows users as young as 13 years old to join the website. What can a 13-year-old do on a social networking site? They are going to feel lost and obtain a lot of age-inappropriate information there. “Teens have chosen to Ask. fm as one of the ways they can spend time with friends –away from the prying eyes of parents and other adults” (Guynn and Stobart). Unfortunately, there are more social networking websites just like Ask. fm, teenagers are leaving abusive comments and false information there to mislead or insult others without any admin there to watch over. Those social networking websites should take responsibility for not setting up keyword detectors and constantly monitor their users’ behaviors.
Children have started growing independent and want to have privacy throughout adolescence. They do not want parents to intervene in their social lives, especially about what they are doing online. For those caring parents who want to know about their children’s online behaviors and activities, they might have downloaded some parental apps and installed them on their children’s devices. “But while parents may see this kind of tracking tools as a way of keeping their kids safe from bullying and sexual harassment, some law enforcement educators say that so-called spyware isn’t the solution for protecting kids on the internet” (Sternstein). Teenagers are very smart, they know parents always want to make sure they are not doing something they are not supposed to do; hence, they might use friends’ devices or some public computers to bypass their parents’ supervision. “Tech-savvy kids find ways to circumvent protections” (Sternstein). That has fallen parents from trying to catch their children’s inappropriate behaviors on the internet.
Teenagers have quick learning skills. They pick up new technologies faster than most adults. In order not to let parents find out what they are saying online, they develop new languages for online communication, and it is only people who have involved would understand the contents. This has put parents on the blind side because they have no idea if their teenagers are committing crimes or leaving harmful comments to others on the internet. As McQuade mentions in Cyberbullying Protecting Kids & Adults from Online Bullies, “There are many examples in history of abuse and crime becoming more difficult to manage due to emergent technological conditions in society” (57). In a situation like this, parents should not be blamed for something they do not even know. They pay attention to their children as usual, but they are not trained to understand teenagers’ online “code.” If adolescents are determined to use abusive language to others online, that is because they think they will not be held accountable for attacking others by using electronic devices (Morgan 147). Instead of blaming parents for their teenagers’ cyberbullying, let teenagers realize they will be held accountable for their online behaviors even at a young age. It not only teaches them to take responsibility for their doing but also gives them a chance to make up for those who are victimized by their wrongdoing.
There are dedicated parents who always try to build good relationships with their teenage children and stop them from going down the wrong path, but teenagers would rather spend time with their friends than with their parents. “The peer group has a much stronger impact in shaping their attitudes and actions” (Hinduja and Patchin 712). One takes the behavior of one’s company. If they know their friends are participating in bullying or cyberbullying, there is a higher chance that they will be part of it (Hinduja and Patchin 712). Especially when there is someone among friends who are carrying bad influence, everyone is going to follow what the so-called role model does and think this is how friendship works. According to Hinduja and Patchin’s research, “When a youth starts to run in a circle of deviant peers, he or she is presented with more criminal opportunities, and partaking in misbehavior becomes more attractive in a collective setting or “ intimate personal groups” rather than as a singular individual” (713). Teenagers want to feel the need from their friends; they share more information with each other than with their parents. In this strong friend-bonding relationship, it is hard for parents to intervene in their behaviors. Even if parents noticed something unusual about their teenagers and tried to take action on it, the majority of teenagers would care less about the consequences and not be honest with their parents. They lie about things in order to cover for their friends. “The impact of peers and their behavioral choices seems to be stronger than individual delinquent tendencies or values” (Hinduja and Patchin 713). Teenagers are leaving their parents at their wit’s ends when parental intervention is no longer working well.