In Expert Interviews

Michelle Crumbly on Social Media Safety

social media safety

Michelle Crumbly is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Alabama and Georgia and a National Certified Counselor. She is trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and also has eight years of military experience. She discusses all aspects of Social Media Safety with NoBullying.com’s Founder, Ciaran Connolly.

This can also be found on youtube if you prefer:

Below is a transcript of the interview on Social Media Safety:

Michelle: My name is Michelle Crumbly. I am a licensed professional counselor in the state of Alabama and in the state of Georgia. I have my private practice Michelle Crumbly. I see all ages but primarily children and families.

Ciaran: Very good. Excellent and thank you very much for taking time out to talk to us today. It is very much appreciated. So, if you don’t I’ll start by asking do you think that bullying is as big an issue today as it has been maybe 10 or 20 years ago ?

Michelle: I think it is really the same. I just think it is getting more notice now because it has become more advance than back in the day. Back in the day you could leave that at school but now when you leave schools, you can put it on the internet, you have the cellphones to get the information out faster now.

Ciaran: So, you see a difference in technology, how technology is used and social media and mobile phones in regards to bullying?

Michelle:  Yes. It is now so advanced. When we were little, you could take a picture. There was no crop. You could take a picture and you could get the pictured developed. Now, to take a picture it is automatically to take a picture and send. It is not only taking a picture. It’s take the picture and send it and post it. It is just an automatic thing now.

Ciaran: Of course and do you think, when we are talking about technology, do you think there is a lot of media coverage in the newspapers and on the news about bullying and even cyber bullying, do you think this is helping raise awareness?

Michelle:  I think the news is covering bullying but they are not digging into cyber bullying like they should because bullying when the kids leave school, it is better because there is no more school bullying but like I said, now it goes home with them but I don’t  think the media has emphasized cyber bullying like they should.

Ciaran: Excellent. So you think there should be more coverage on cyber bullying to try and make sure everyone knows about it?

Michelle: Yes.

Ciaran: And have you seen any local cases or maybe you have seen in local media or maybe you’ve dealt with yourself, some severe cases and actually some severe consequences of bullying or cyber bullying?

Michelle: I haven’t seen it directly but I heard about it indirectly. Kids now lack a little self-control because they are used to social media where you can just instead of thinking about what you say before you say it, they automatically type it and hide behind the screen. Instead of thinking and typing, they just…it’s reflex to type and don’t think about the consequence and I think the kids need to be aware that once you type it and press send, it is out there forever. Whereas when say it, we can probably apologize and people would eventually forget about it, but once you hit the send button on that computer, it takes it to a whole new level that bullying does.

Ciaran: Of course and do you … I know you deal with families and children. Is it possible to educate children to understand this? How do we help children understand the dangers of careless posting and careless social media and internet use?

Michelle: I think it has to come from all avenues not just the school system. It has to start at home first. More monitoring needs to be done especially in home because now kids are getting IPhones with internet on IPhones at that age, in elementary school now, and there should be some limitations placed on that or if it is not limitation, it is monitoring by the parents and it takes a lot because I am a parent myself and it does take a lot of time. So, when you get the phone as a parent, instead of just buying the phone you have to ask yourself and say “Do I have the time and effort to put it into monitoring a phone like I should?” If the answer is no, maybe hold on for a year or so when you have time to monitor the phone because now it can make a child send out inappropriate messages but they may receive inappropriate messages also and that way you can stop them from coming you’re your child’s life but I think it really starts at an early age and it had to start primarily at home and it has to come from all media. It has to come from social media. I think they have a responsibility because they just can’t put information out and not monitor what they put out. I think parents have a huge responsibility in monitoring what their kids do. Also, I think school has responsibility too when they see that bullying exists then they have to stop it you know but because sometimes it happens after school because in America you don’t have black or white anymore, you have real grey areas now because it might happen at school but at the same time it goes after school also because of social media.

Parents and Social Media Safety

Ciaran: Of course and you made a very valid point. Parents now are very busy and to think of monitoring a child’s activities on the computer and on iPod and on an IPhone  and on all other devices that they might have access to, it starts to become a real challenge and no one is with a child 24/7 and even our children can be sitting on the couch beside us using their IPhones and we don’t know who they are talking to; this is it or what they are doing. We think they are safe and they are sitting two feet away from us but actually in reality, we actually don’t know what is happening on the screen. So, you raise a very valid point and do you think that there is likely long term effects on people who are bullied?

Michelle: Yes, I do. People may say the old proverb of “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me”, that is so not true now especially it is just so horribly on the kids now because they are just fully in touch with it. Back in the days when we made a mistake, nothing would blow over and eventually in a week or two, they will be resolved but now with social media, it is just not easier to forget because it is posted on the web and now they are not just seen in schools, it is seen outside in the town and probably in the state probably in another country. So, when you get to the post, the child keeps seeing their mistake over and over again and that makes it more difficult for a child to get over that. You know, you still have the simple, there is no such thing as simple bullying, but the bullying where it is just one on one and even that does a lot of damage to kids and it takes a network of people to have the child come and speak then it wears off pretty quick. It can be easily overcome, hopefully.

Ciaran: And do you think parents and teachers are dealing with bullying victims and even bullies them self in the right way? Do they have enough resources and skills to actually help improve the situation?

Michelle: Yes, I do think we have enough resources out there and it sometimes has to be emphasized to the kids because it is easier if they share, to tell a teacher, tell your parents, with all this new age stuff out there, you don’t snitch, you don’t tell. It is harder for kids to tell because they want to be part of that group or part of another group but if they are known of telling or tattling, kids don’t know the difference between telling and tattling. I don’t think that is emphasized enough. There is a big difference between telling and tattling. Tattling is just “My pencil dropped”, “The fan turned off” but telling someone you are terribly in danger or being hurt and I don’t think it’s emphasized enough the difference between the two and because of that, a lot of kids don’t tell or don’t get involved when they see bullying going on.

Ciaran:  Of course. So, you are raising the very valid point of bystanders. You think that if people came forward and helped other people more, children helped other children who are being bullied more, then things will be better?

Michelle: Yes, I definitely believe that because nowadays the kids are so sociable and out. We, as grownups, we know social norms  but teenagers they want to be a part of a group or they want to exist in a group and it is sometimes hard to do that when you have been on the tell on someone. If there is a safe way that allows a child to go anonymous about telling or you know may be it will be easier for the person and when the child tells a teacher or a parent in confidence, then it needs to be…maybe they need to know that their name won’t get out and that they don’t have to answer that, if they weren’t involved or anything. They might tell a known person who is bully “We have a witness for your bullying so and so” instead of “John told us that you have done this”. Maybe the kids will come forward even more, or maybe they may feel more comfortable because in some cases, kids have told and nothing has happened. I heard a number of kids say “I told but nothing had happened”. We just keep telling the kids to tell and we don’t do anything while really with kids, you have to be consistent because if they see that you are not going to follow through and be consistent, kids are finicky. They are going to leave along and move on to something else.

Cyber Safety and Social Media Safety

Ciaran:  And do you think adults, changing the topic and the subject, do you think adults are bullied in this day and age? Do you think bullying continues not just through childhood but into adulthood and general life?

Michelle: Yes, I do. I really do. It’s even worse with adults. We become a nation of a…I am trying to find an appropriate word for ‘not caring adults’. I think it’s called ‘internet’ because you get real confident on the internet because if you go to any website, even a news website, where they post something about an event or a person and you just read the blog sort of comments that people put on that website, 80% are so negative and for adults to be behaving that way, how we can train and teach our kids the appropriate way to handle the internet if we, as adults, can’t handle the internet and we tend to say anything to each other or post anything especially when we become angry? You can go to Facebook and go to an adult’s page. When they become angry at someone, they may take a slide on Facebook. It’s like we have become a nation of…or we just forgot how to use our words appropriately, to remember that others have feelings and so.

Ciaran: That was a very valid point and you are right when you say that. I am thinking of so many examples that jump into my mind that I have seen on websites and especially you are right. News articles, something comes out and people are so negative and aggressive towards it, especially maybe famous people, definitely it feels 80% of the comments are anti them and it’s so aggressive but you are totally right! How can we lead by example when we are actually doing things like that? So, we all need a little bit of mindset change to try to change the culture and cyber bullying. So, definitely a lot of work to be done with how we all approach adults and children approach the internet. Thank you very much for your time and your insight. It was very interesting to hear your views and what is happening in in your local region and what you see happening in cyber space and if anyone, any family who has children and would like to reach out to you for some advice or help, what would be the best way for them to contact you?

Michelle: They can contact me on my business phone. It is 334 377 0191 or they can contact me on my office no. 334 887 2001 and I do have a website also. It is http://freshhopecounselingcenter.com/index.html.

Ciaran: Excellent and we will make sure we put that detail underneath the video or audio if anyone is watching and we’ll make sure it is in the text as well so anyone can reach out and get some advice if they need it. Again, thank you Michelle so much for your time today. It was brilliant and much appreciated.

Michelle: I appreciate you calling. Thank you so much.

What does Social Media Safety represent to you? Are you doing enough in regards to the Social Media Safety of your children and the Social Media Safety of yourself? Tell us how you define Social Media Safety!

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