Cyber Awareness: A Teen's Perspective

  • Published
  • By Abraham Huerd and Brenna Gonsalves
  • Hanscom Air Force Base Teen Council
It is becoming more and more important for parents, teens and young children to be aware while online. Cyber bullying is a serious issue a large number of people face today.

Before, bullying could only happen if you were near the bully. Victims of bullying might have been assaulted during recess or after school, but once you were home, you were safe. Now, the bully can pour in through a cell phone, a tablet, a laptop, almost anything with an internet connection. 

Today more than 80 percent of teens use cell phones on a daily basis, according to This makes them an incredibly easy target for cyber bullying. 

Cyber bullying is a key contributor in health concerns such as anxiety, depression and suicide. According to the Cyber bullying Research Center, "Cyber bullying victims are more likely to have low self-esteem and consider suicide."

Anyone, no matter their race, gender or age, can be affected by cyber bullying. With people online every second of the day, more than one in three people have experienced cyber threats, according to the i-SAFE foundation. Additionally, reports more than 70 percent of youth have recounted seeing frequent bullying on their social media feeds. 

Along with cyber bullying, there are other things to consider about the online world. Teens need to know that what is posted, tweeted, snapped or other forms of online social media can be found later. Jobs and colleges often look through an applicant's social media history. What is put online truly stays out there forever. One click or post may change your life.

It is critical to bring awareness of the cyber world. The first step to ensuring your child is safe online is to have an open dialog about these issues at an early age. It is important that they understand the seriousness of the cyber world and what can become of it. Although the internet can be a great tool, it can also be used as a weapon. They need to feel comfortable coming to you if something was to happen online, to them or a friend, and to know your first priority is their safety. It is important to be aware of the consequences of cyber bullying along with any improper social media use. 

From our perspective as teenagers, we have a few practical recommendations to parents. We recommend parents make sure to have the passwords to their children's social media and use it to keep tabs on what they are doing. If possible, have the family computer in a public area of the home such as the living room. Also, ask yourself it is necessary for your child to have their electronic device behind closed doors. Especially for younger children, consider only allowing them to use them in the common areas of your home. If any cyber bullying or other concerning issues do occur, be sure to keep some type of documentation of the event as you are deciding how to proceed.

As teens today growing up in a rapidly evolving cyber world, we have heard of or seen everything from low self-esteem for not being someone's "Woman crush Wednesday," to cyber stalking for not being interested in a relationship. When behind a screen, many teens often feel more confident because there is no face-to-face interaction. However, with the power of being able to say whatever, whenever, comes a responsibility. Although the wounds that used to be left by bullies were physical, emotional pain hurts as much and lasts just as long, if not longer.

By maintaining an open dialog, making youth aware of the consequences, and making sure they are always aware online, will help ensure the safety of your child in the cyber world.