A report out telling us that children use social media in the way that children have used everything ever – under the covers and at night. Maiden aunts are appalled of course. Not just that, get this, some children use social media to bully others. As if being bullied hasn’t been part of childhood since Cain had that duff up with Abel. OK, well, to be fair, we usually hope it doesn’t go that far but still, hands up everyone with a past entirely unsullied by the thick lad taking the mickey.
Children as young as 11 are so addicted to social media that they log on after midnight every night, research has found.
When those of a slightly greater vintage than your correspondent talk about using the crystal radio to tune into Radio Luxembourg late at night this is taken to be a tale of how wondrous childhood was back then. Not an addiction to something more hardcore than the BBC’s Light Programme with the orchestra of whateverhisnamewas. One thing that’s being missed is that this is what childhood is – a continual stretching and exploration of what the limits are. This is how we actually grow up. That is, there is no switch to be thrown on the 18 th birthday which equips one to be an adult, it’s the preceding 18 years of playing around which does it. Actually, this is pretty much a defining feature of what it is to be human, our extraordinarily long childhood.
That’s not all though:
MPs and leading charities warned that almost two thirds of young people had fallen victim to cyber bullying but admitted they would not tell their parents if they experienced something upsetting online.
Their report accused social media platforms of failing to effectively tackle cyber-bullying and offering only a “tokenistic” response to the problem, placing children’s mental health at risk.
Bullying is a normal part of any childhood. Oh, we might prefer that it isn’t but again humans are just like that. We’re tribal little creatures and conflicts between the in- and out- groups are again a defining feature of any society we’ve ever had, or will.
What’s happening here is that the milquetoasts who define these sorts of policies have, correctly, noted that we’d prefer not to have significant nor serious bullying. This is true, obviously, just as we’ll all agree that such things as death are inevitable but we’d prefer a little less of it. Thus we’ve vast anti-bullying programs in the schools and so on and still it happens. Now they’re looking at this virgin canvas of cyberspace and insisting that it should be as the perfection in their heads, not the actual interaction between human beings that it is.
That ain’t the way to try to regulate the world. We must deal with it as it is, with us humans as they way we are. Oh, and trying to get government to stop Form 3 bullying Form 1 boys is going to be about as effective as that chocolate teapot currently under development in Whitehall. They’ll be launching a plan to ban teenage boys fondling themselves next….