My granddaughter, who just turned 10 years old, received an iTouch for Christmas. One step closer to a cell phone. When she first got it she used it to play games, take photos and FaceTime with me and one of her friends.
She soon discovered the text message feature.
Her contacts were initially limited to family and a couple of her BFF’s.
I looked forward to a sweet “Good Night Grandma” message every evening from Bella.
Since her parents allowed her to use the alarm clock feature on the device, she would take it up to her room each night.
My daughter began to get suspicious, though, when Bella, who normally would get up for school as soon as her alarm went off, started to have a hard time waking up in the morning.
Jen suspected that Bella was using the iTouch and staying up well past her bedtime.
I was no longer getting those sweet messages from her.
One night Jen told Bella that she had to leave the iTouch downstairs. After my granddaughter went to sleep, Jen took a look at the text messages that Bella was sending and receiving.
She discovered that Bella was a participant in a group chat. She was upset to learn that the messages going back and forth were mean spirited. She found out that three girls were ganging up on Bella and one of Bella’s best friends.
Jen had a talk with Bella and she finally confided in her mother. She told Jen exactly what was going on.
Bella had been trying to handle the situation on her own by deleting the “mean” girls from her contact list. She didn’t understand that deleting the names would not stop the girls from contacting her.
Jen used the *Block Contacts feature on the iTouch to stop those particular girls from being able to contact Bella.
At this point it has turned into a “she said, she said” scenario, with a guidance counselor involved. Oddly enough, however, Jen was never contacted by the school to inform her of the matter.
I am curious, though, about the psyche of individuals who perpetuate bullying behavior, particularly girls.
Who are these girls? Why do they lash out? What makes them want to hurt another person?
What need is it satisfying in them?
What is it that they say? “Life’s lessons begin on the playground.”
I understand that “mean” girls have been around forever. Yes, today’s technology gives them another method to channel their meanness.
I know that Bella will face many such challenges during her life because she will encounter all kinds of people along the way.
My hope is that she will gain the necessary insight and perception to recognize decency and kindness and form friendships and relationships with people who possess those qualities.
*The website “Be Smart Web” is a helpful resource. The link explains how to turn on certain parental control features such as Blocking Contacts.