Get off social media!

If you’re being bullied on social media, get off social media.

It seems like common sense doesn’t it, but not everyone sees it this way.

Australian Rugby League player, Ben Hunt, was recently advised by sports psychologist Jeff Bond to get off social media after he was bullied and blamed for the recent poor performance of his team, the St George-Illawarra Dragons. Bond was quoted in The Sydney Morning Herald, as saying,

“My advice to my clients has been get off social media. All you are doing is opening yourself up. And why would you bother? You’ve got to be your own judge.”

Interestingly, when a respected sports psychologist says this to a famous footballer, it is regarded as sage advice. When a school Teacher says this to a teenager who is being bullied, it is interpreted as a dismissive comment which ignores the complexities of cyber-bullying and adolescent relationships. The criticism of the Teacher makes the following assumptions:

  • Social media is a need. The criticism of the Teacher implies that teenagers NEED to be on social media and are incapable of getting off it. It fails to acknowledge that teenagers functioned perfectly well before the existence of social media. Most were more literate before social media. Social media does more harm than good to teenagers and they don’t NEED to engage with it.
  • Common sense is dead. Common sense has departed the education system in Australia. Common sense tells us that if you’re being bullied behind the gym at lunchtime, don’t go behind the gym at lunchtime. If you’re being bullied on social media, get off social media.

Of course, some locations are unavoidable. Bullying happens in classrooms, on the bus, at the canteen…and teenagers can’t avoid these places, but they can avoid social media, because it is not a NEED.

  • Parents are innocent. Who buys children the smart phones which are used to engage with social media? Parents. Very few teenagers can afford to buy one, so parents must accept some responsibility in the cyber-bullying of their children. Furthermore, it is the job of parents to stop or limit cyber-bullying. Teachers are already overworked and the expectation of parents and society that Teachers will protect their children from cyber-bullying is unrealistic and unfair.

But my child will be abducted!

Many parents have succumbed to the clever marketing of mobile phone companies who frightened the public into believing that their child will be kidnapped if they don’t own a mobile phone. If safety is the primary reason for arming a child with a mobile phone, buy a phone that can only phone and text, and cannot connect to the internet; they do exist. When children log on, the problems begin.

  • Teachers are more powerful than police. Cyber-bullying, including that which occurs via social media, is regarded as a crime. Police can’t stop it, even with all of their crime fighting resources, so how can Teachers be expected to stop cyber-bullying?
  • Teenagers are innocent. Schools in Australia ban mobile phones. The specific rules differ from school to school but no student, primary or secondary, should take their phone out of their bag or their pocket during school time. Yet, many students and parents complain to schools of cyber-bullying taking place during school hours, and expect the Teacher to take responsibility for this. Kids, get off social media, and get off your phone. Listen to your Teachers.

Teachers are also expected to stop bullying which occurs outside of school hours, in a place where teenagers go in order to escape from adults.

Bullying is part of a capitalist society. Royal families are bullies, media moguls and mining magnates are bullies and the language of business is cased in terms of war and domination of rivals. Bullying will never go away, but one simple thing that teenagers can do to avoid being bullied on social media, is to get off social media.


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