The Rotary Club of Pismo Beach / Five Cites
Leanna Newby, Second Place
Grade 11, Coastal Christian
Teacher: Alison Limon
Excited, the girl glances at her phone. Unable to see the screen because of the gleaming sun, she moves to the shade of a prodigious oak tree. Two seconds later, she picks up the device again. She glides her fingers effortlessly across the ebony screen. Opening an icon she smiles at the notification of a message. She pushes it to appear, and, horrified for one second of her life, she will never be able to erase that egregious image now pigmented and encapsulated inside her innocent head.
According to a recent study conducted by Nielsen, an American global information company, “70 percent of teens aged 13 to 17 now use smartphones, and 79 percent of young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 own a smartphone.” This immense percentage is the source of incredible marketing skills, making smartphones become a label of popularity for teens; and supposedly more efficient for adults. Sadly, in today’s pressure-driven society, teens are forced by surrounding peer pressure to getting certain items, more specifically private applications, that have the ability to open an entire world of cyber-bullying without any protection of parents or guardians. Since these apps are private, there are no regulations or restrictions, giving the user the powerful option for a derogatory message to last for a couple of seconds and providing no proof of the victim’s abuse or perpetrator. Many excuses for acquiring these apps such as Snapchat, Ugly meter, or Enemy Graph include the strain of desiring popularity or self
confidence, although the reality of these items are a complete juxtaposition to the truth. The apps increasing in the adolescent world of technology are shown to enhance and promote cyber-bullying, depression, and possible suicidal contemplation. Expanding upon the app, Enemy Graph, Lissa Albert, a Canadian cyber-bullying educator, declared that, “A disagreement or falling out between friends can easily lead them to list one or both as enemies, and with youth, we have seen that become a fast-spreading sentiment that can lead to isolation, ostracizing, and further ridicule/humiliation.” Unfortunately, the companies that produce such negative apps, instead of removing the product or agreeing to redesign it, state that, “In a way we are misusing the word “enemy” just as much as Facebook and others have misused “friend”.” Although these developers have seemingly innocent intentions, it does not derail from the prominent and prevailing theme throughout society that these currently popular apps provide a unique source and justifiable outlet for cyber-bullies.
The Four Way Test is completely relevant and a wonderful check to make sure everything throughout your personal social media accounts are not harmful. The insightful questions: Is it the truth?, Is it fair to all concerned?, Will it build good will and better friendships?, and Will it be beneficial to all concerned?, encourage teens to be sympathetic, compassionate, and overall more mature people, ready to proceed into their adult lives. This test is a reliable mental reminder that will last throughout your entire life, especially while interacting through cellular devices and the immense world of social media. These important questions demote the pressure to attain these apps and prevent the sending of vulgar or malicious messages; while also retaining and supporting the essential goal of growth and the necessity of self-worth.