OUR VIEW: Cyberbullying prevalent on Web sites

As time moves forward, technology constantly evolves.

And in just about all cases, the younger generation takes to these technological advancements quicker than their elders.

Your children understand smart phones better than you do, and you understand desktop computers better than your parents, right? Just about everyone between the ages of 30 and 60 should be nodding their heads.

And therein lies a fundamental parenting and school-administering roadblock that isn’t going away anytime soon.

Children will always be one step ahead of you technologically, so how do you oversee their positive growth with so much that you don’t understand and even more that you don’t even know exists?

Especially when there are bad people in this world eager to make a quick buck with no moral compass.

That’s the problem facing many parents and school administrators not only in the bayou region, but across America, in the form of the latest social media vehicles for cyberbullying and offensive content posting to the masses – Streetchat and Yik Yak.

If you’re wondering what those weird words are, unfortunately you aren’t alone.

Both Streetchat and Yik Yak are applications anyone can download to their mobile devices for free. Under the veil of simply providing an outlet for people to express themselves and the seemingly empty threat of consequences if anyone misuses its services, people can connect with others close in proximity via the phone’s GPS device. In Streetchat’s case, children classify themselves as members of specific school networks, directly placing the perception that whatever is posted is happening on the school’s watch. Material posted at school is. Material posted at home, however, isn’t.

Now, put the power to post anything (including candid pictures of classmates and teachers with whatever text you’d like to write over it with no digital policing or consequences) into the hands of teenagers, who as we all know can be relentlessly mean and inappropriate to their peers, posting from anonymous and difficult-to-track usernames, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. The word offensive doesn’t even adequately describe some of the posts – many of which are specifically directed at certain people – and for the sake of editorial decency we will not provide any further details on the content.

Then add that those behind the apps have strong financial motives to keep them going and turn a blind eye to how their product is being used because more clicks and more downloads equals more money – bringing us to the real bad guys of the story, the adults who are profiting of the embarrassment, degradation and humiliation of America’s youth.

Despite the efforts of our local schools and law enforcement entities, who are doing their best to monitor and track down those who cross the line online with limited resources, the ultimate responsibility to curb these acts falls on you, the parents.

If your child is using a smartphone, you paid for it.

If your child is using a data plan, you paid for it.

So if your child is participating in anything resembling cyberbulling, even under the school’s jurisdiction, this falls under your watch too, and you have the right to monitor it.

And also don’t be shortsighted enough to think that this conversation starts and ends with Streetchat and Yik Yak.

A similar application Vine was the rage last year. It caused several cyberbulling complaints in our local schools, and there will surely be another, which will soon catch the attention of our local children. And another after that. We live in a market-driven society, and as long as there’s a market for cyberbulling, heartless, nameless, pathetic adults will have no problem profiting off the pain of our youth.

Even the most popular and well-known applications such as Facebook or Twitter can be used for the wrong reasons if they end up in the wrong hands.

All while we, the adults, have been unaware of the issues that could be right under our noses.

Let’s try to stop that. The social well-being of our youth is depending on you.