Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mean Girls in Fourth Grade?

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.


  1. I knew an eighth grade boy who made a fake Facebook page for another boy. It had all kinds of filth on it. The victim ended up moving, but someone else created another page. Kids can be so mean on social media. I tattled to the principal.

    I like the name Bella. I hope she finds decent, nice friends.

    1. You did the right thing by giving the principal important information about a situation which could have had potentially serious consequences.
      But having said that, we all know that kids can sometimes do dumb things. Yeah, me included. It takes time to grow, mature and eventually wisely ripen.
      Bella is a sweet person and she does have decent, nice friends.

  2. Thankfully, my daughter has never been a party to any of this type of behavior. I have seen girls behave badly, but have never witnessed, or known about, anything that I would classify as bullying. I know kids can be mean, and as a kid I remember kids I thought were friends being mean to me and doing hurtful things, but again no real bullying, just bad behavior. I am sorry Bella had to go through this. I hope it is better now and that she's okay.

    1. That’s a good way to put it, bad behavior. I think that is what’s going on here also. Sadly it’s something we probably all go through.
      Thank you, Bella is doing okay.

  3. Yikes. I believe that those who engage in bullying behavior have some deep-seated issues with their own self-esteem. By hurting others, they feel better about themselves. More powerful, somehow. Doesn't make it right. I'm so sorry Bella had to go through this.

    1. Liz,
      I know you probably see this sort of thing all of the time. You’re right, self-esteem is most likely at the root of most bullying behavior. Thank you, Bella actually handled this situation quite well.

  4. So sorry Bella had to go through this; a sad lesson to have learned at such a young age. I don't know why some girls can be so cruel but I do think its because they are hurting so much about something they have to take it out on someone else and you almost want to feel sorry for them that they have to resort to something like this. I am so thankful I'm not a parent of a young child these days; I don't know where I would draw the line with them and social media; seems younger and younger they are getting cell phones, iPads, etc.


    1. Hopefully, for each of these girls, it is a stage that they will mature out of. I do think that e-communication can be easily misconstrued. Sometimes when I read an e-mail or a text message, I find myself adding my own interpretation of the writer’s tone of voice. Even though these devices are meant to be a means to communicate, I find them to often be isolating. We have turned into a society of heads down people, staring at the palm of our hands.

  5. I think it is a GIRL thing. I raised two sons to full adult hood and if they had a problem with another boy they might punch him and then go over to his house to play. Not so with girls. They have to do the whole "mean girl" thing it seems. And with Social media it is all just so much worse. My 14 year old granddaughter, who lives with me, thinks I am so 'old fashioned' because I check up on her Facebook, Instagram and look at her iTouch and phone every single day. I think parents need to take a more active role with all this social interacting. Girls seems to always want to stick in to another girl in groups.....don't get it!!

    1. I think, though, that boys can have a mean streak also. Bullying, picking on the smaller kids, that kind of thing.
      But it does seem to narrow down to certain individuals.
      I think you are right about girls. There is an attraction to the drama and gossip.
      My daughter was a little hesitant about invading her daughter’s privacy by looking at her text messages. I told her she should absolutely be aware of what her child is doing, especially with social media. I mean the girl just turned 10!