Clinical psychologist Dr Gillian O’Brien says teens are not being taught how to behave online.
* PSYCHOLOGIST’S REACTION:
“Teens are accepting of the bad behaviour. But teens are fragile”
“A lot of young people don’t even think of cyberbullying as such. It’s just the banter that you get online. They often have an older image of bullying. The problem is that nobody is teaching them how to interact online,” says Headstrong’s clinical psychologist Dr Gillian O’Brien.
“If you think about how we learn to interact with people as children, it’s through reinforcement of good behaviour. Who is teaching them to interact online? That model isn’t there and so the teenagers are nearly accepting of the bad behaviour.
“But the risk is: teenagers are fragile, and at some point, if the comments are constant, they may, in some part, begin to believe them and think this is an acceptable way to communicate. Therefore, parents need to upskill, so they can teach their children to be kind and respectful online.
“Also, whether it’s teachers or parents, some kind of common net guidelines are necessary for children, so they can fully understand the consequences of posting nasty comments and standing by when others are bullied. Getting up to speed with the web may seem daunting, but parents have to make it their business.
“They need to have open conversations with their children without invading their space. Yes, they need to arm themselves with information — in the same way that they want to know where their child is in the physical world, they need to know where they are, and who they are with, in the cyber world.
“Often, the kid is caught between a rock and a hard place. They won’t tell their parents as they fear their phone will be confiscated and they will be out of the loop socially.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved