In Cyber Safety

Cyber Safety: Facebook and Real Life, the Struggle

Speaking of Cyber Safety, imagine you opening your Facebook page and the timeline it says Joe is now single and has ended his relationship, while you must on some levels, feel bad for the man, you wonder when he was going to tell you, his girlfriend!

Yes it has happened, someone breaks up with someone without telling them and ends up doing it on Facebook, now imagine you being the dumped one and seeing your mutual friends and classmates “liking” his changed relationship status. It may make you laugh now, but the sad truth is it happens way often than it should.

The truth is people should be aware of the potential damage to their cyber safety doing something as “trivial” as changing relationship status on Facebook can do to someone.

And then there are the nasty comments that follow a public break-up, or friends “like” the split, leading the wounded party to question the sincerity of their friends in the first place.

“Breaking up is huge in anybody’s life,” said Susan Lipkins, a psychologist from Long Island, N.Y., who specializes in adolescents. “It’s tough on everybody and it’s something that plagues us throughout our lives.”

“What Facebook does is it has extended the dimensions of a relationship,” she said. “It’s used in wonderful ways to be supportive, meeting people, connecting and finding more about a person you are dating, giving you a lot of information about them and their past.”

“But it can also be negative when you find out that person has hooked up with someone else or you get information that is used against them,” she said.

Just last month, the Boston Public Health Commission deemed the topic important enough to invite 200 teens from all over the state to a conference: the Break-Up Summit.

“We want young people to engage in healthy relationships and part of it is breaking up, an oft-neglected area because adults are not comfortable, nor do they have the skills,” said Casey Corcoran, director of the commission’s Start Strong initiative. “Nobody’s talking about it.”

Corcoran, who has worked as a teacher and with abusive men, said that learning break-up skills can also lead to healthier online and offline relationships.

“It helps kids do pre-planning and think about how they want their relationship represented online,” said Corcoran. “What does it mean if I put my picture up and tag them? When we break up, do I save or delete them? Young people don’t differentiate as much as adults between online and offline life. … One of the wonderful things about the adolescent brain is impulsivity. And these [social networking] tools drive on impulsive behavior.”

“A lot of fights break out on Facebook and most of them end badly,” said Olivia Cook, a middle schooler from Cranbury, N.J. She said “mass de-friending” could be considered bullying.

These topics raise some serious questions about the difference between real life and online life. Breakups and losing friends is hard enough in real life without the “social network” factor. That is what you need to consider when it comes to cyber safety.

Spread the word about how cyber safety is not an option anymore. In this day and age, real cyber safety is a must!

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