Article Author: Sindhiya Alwani
The average age for Canadian children getting their first smartphone from their parents is now 10-11 years old. Kids usually get smartphones but sometimes they also get other devices, such as iPad, iPods, and etc. These days, young kids enjoy using social media and gaming websites for recreation purposes. Sometimes, they become addicted to these sites. Nowadays, nearly 23% youth (31% male and 13% female) say that they feel addicted to playing video games. In some cases, kids create online accounts for these websites by lying about their age. In other cases, kids take over their parent’s account with or without their consent.
Today, I wanted to share a story about a bunch of friends who learned, the hard way, on how to handle their devices.
As soon as the bell rang to end Mrs. Smith’s grade 5 math class, a bunch of “popular kids” came out the front doors of their school. They started talking about how they wished they had their own devices. Well, all was about to change. When the 10 year olds went home they were surprised with… hold it, the popular kids’ names are Mackenzie, Jessica, John, Max, Sam, Chloe, Zoey, and Nikki….BRAND NEW DEVICES OF THEIR OWN! Their parents had jointly decided to treat their children with new smartphones. Once all of them were in their bedrooms with their devices, they contacted and informed each other about their gifts. They started downloading various apps, without even asking or even telling their parents. They got accounts for music.ly, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. They lied about their age online. On Facebook, they accepted each other’s friend requests and created a separate Facebook group for them. Soon after, to their surprise, they noticed that someone from outside their Facebook group was requesting to be added to their group. This person was considered a nerd by this group of friends. They accepted the “nerd’s” request and quickly planned to hurt her. Her name was Grace. The group of friends saw that Grace had already posted pictures of herself on Facebook. They took her pictures and photo-shopped the pictures to add weird features to her face and body. When other kids on Facebook saw these pictures, they made fun of Grace. And to be sneaky, so that no one would know who posted Grace’s altered pictures online, the group of friends quickly unfriended Grace on Facebook. Grace was hurt.
Now let’s stop and assess what just happened. As you just read, Grace was hurt from all the teasing online – because Grace wasn’t considered as popular as her Facebook “friends”. These friends crossed the line when they took pictures of Grace and abused her. These friends made Grace and her friends feel bad.
Now let’s continue with our story…. As I mentioned earlier that Mackenzie, Jessica, John, Max, Sam, Chloe, Zoey, and Nikki had unfriended Grace on Facebook so they wouldn’t get caught. But, what they didn’t realize was that it would still show who posted Grace’s altered pictures. Grace and her friends found out who posted the pictures online. Grace chose not to tell on them. Instead, she was brave enough to confront them and tell them how they have hurt her feelings. She even cried when she spoke to them. This made the group of friends realize their mistake and they learned that they should never abuse someone just because they are different from them.
When kids are hurt online, they mostly try to resolve their issue themselves. This is a good approach, because you should try to solve your problems yourself. But, when you’re dealing with something that hurts you significantly, you should always inform your teachers and parents. But, why teachers? You should tell your teachers because the person who has hurt you could be in your school or maybe even your classroom, and your teacher can help solve the problem at school. And of course, you can’t forget telling your parents either! Always tell them everything – even the number of tests you have this week! You can ask them about their experience. Never forget to ask for help when you need it. We have to work together to put an end to inappropriate behaviour and promote kindness.
You can contact Sindhiya Alwani at: firstname.lastname@example.org