Sunday 8 April 2012

Week 31- cyber bullying, cool 10 year olds and sitting on bins

So Easter's here, and with it, millions of kids who have nothing to fill their days with, other than sitting off on the steps near the shop round the corner, or pushing each other aggressively on the swings that are way too small for them, in the park.

I was pretty relieved about this. Not that they've got nothing to do, but that the way they fill that nothingness didn't seem to be that different to when I was young. When you could hang out in the adventure playground all day, taking it in turns to push the roundabout really fast until someone was sick.

Or sit off somewhere inconvenient for normal people. Like the bins in the market square, and just lurk. Occasionally leaving to buy sweets or crisps, and then stay there until your mum, or a mate of your mum's tells you to go home.

But as I sat on a bench in the park rocking Nancy's push chair, I started nebbing into the girls' convo who were within earshot on the grass, and quickly realised how massively different it actually all is now.

I don't think girls will ever fundamentally change. Going around in packs at school, forming the most amazingly powerful friendships, but also being skin pricklingly cruel if you're out of favour.

It's just now the means of communicating all this is so sophisticated, it's terrifying.

These girls couldn't have been older than 10. They all looked ├╝ber cool. Skinny jeans, over sized bags, Ray Bans. And were texting away on their mobiles, which looked posher than mine. Not that that should mean anything, other than they're 10 and I'm 33.

But they were talking about a girl at school who none of them seemed to like.

'I'm totally going to unfriend her.'
'I already have.'
'And I might tag her into that picture from the theatre trip where she looks awful.'
' Do it. And tag James into it as well so he definitely sees it.'

And I suddenly shit myself for Nancy.

This is a new, far more dangerous, minefield of social politics to navigate through. It was bad enough trying to survive primary school when all you have to worry about was the school bully not picking on you that day.

But what if you then have to go home and check your Facebook page, and that of all the girls in your class, to make sure no-one's bad mouthing you.

Or work out if there's a deeper meaning to the fact that your best mate has sent you a text, and only typed one kiss, whereas normally she'd type three.

All this on top of face to face interactions and hormones.

No thanks.

I don't want Nancy to grow up completely sheltered, but I do want her to play outside with her mates. Have a pen pal in France than she never meets in real life but loves receiving letters from. Know the names of the different birds in the garden, and not because she was given a bird book by her Granda for Christmas, but because she's genuinely interested.

Not spend her life socialising through the Internet and talking in acronyms.

And more than anything, I want her to have the right to reply in person.

I felt like grabbing the phones off those girls in the park, honing my disapointed mum voice and telling them that if you don't like this girl, fine. But at least have the good old fashioned courtesy to ignore her so she knows where she is. Instead of keeping her in the dark until she logs on at home and then realises you're not mates in cyber or real life.


  1. nebbing.... oh mate haven't heard that in a while.

    Do you realise we were probably the last year of people to have no mobiles in school. We as parents are at a massive disadvantage when it comes to cyber/text bullying as we never had that problem. Still we never had cyber revenge either. A lot safer than punching a bully who is bigger than you and favors the geeky kids :)

  2. You're right, our kids are going to run rings round us, and we'll constantly be like 'what does this mean?' on yet another electronic device. We thought life had got all modern when you could press 1471 on the house phone and find out who the last person to call you was. Good luck us! X

  3. Old age are different and these are not happens then as the technology increases this cyber bullying also increase.Internet safety for kids

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