When I was growing up, cyber bullying amounted to a few teenage insults over MSN and that was it. If you’d had enough of it, you could simply log off.
With today’s level of social media with apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter, it seems like there is no escape from cyber bullying, body shaming, trolls and so on.
Even more worryingly, updates, memes, photos and videos can go viral and can be viewed on a variety of devices – smart phones, TVs and watches, tablets and games consoles – all of which are increasingly the must-have accessories for young people.
A recent report* from NSPCC has blamed social media for the rise in unhappy young people being admitted to hospital for self-harming.
NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said “We know this unhappiness is partly due to the constant pressure they feel, particularly from social media, to have the perfect life or attain a certain image which is often unrealistic.
“They tell us they need to keep up with friends and the 24/7 nature of technology means they can never escape or switch off, adding to the misery that many feel on a daily basis.”
Just as we warned schools to be wary of the Yellow dating app for teens, I also feel they need to understand the pressures young people are under because of social media.
If schools allow their students to use their network to access social media in break times, they need to use an efficient web filtering service to block inappropriate content but to also provide granular reports on a ‘who, what, when and where’ basis. These reports could reveal the identity of potential bullies and their victims.
Some schools will blanket ban the use of social media on their premises, but when it comes to rooting out the bullies and protecting their victims, allowing access via the school network may be a good thing.
If you need some advice on web filtering or monitoring activity on your network, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me.
*Sky News, December 9, 2016