I have some high expectations about the new ABC Family movie Cyberbully, which premieres this Sunday at 8/7c. It’s not that I think it will be an award-winning film with stellar writing and wonderful acting (though the cast isn’t too shabby…we’ll get to that). It’s the fact that here’s a topic that’s constantly in the news and it’s finally getting exposure in an accessible way for teens. I don’t know if you realize this, but not every teen goes to CNN.com, let alone picks up a newspaper, to learn the hard truth about what digital media is doing to our society. I’m not saying I know everything, but I know enough that it scares me.
When I was in college and high school, it was the land of AIM and emo status messages. If I wrote to someone, the only person who would see it was my friend — maybe her roommate — but certainly no one past those in the vicinity of her computer. My photos were printed out on paper and taped to walls, not posted online and publicized on Facebook walls. Hacking happened, but the social side of the computer was so limited that nothing really happened. And ultimately, you had very little information attached to your profile (I think I had lame song lyrics or TV quotes), so someone wouldn’t know too much if they gave you a quick look.
But now everything’s out there. It’s Facebook. It’s Google+. It’s Twitter. And it’s all open for anyone to see. Sure, there are privacy preference, but I’m not sure that’s a high priority for many teens these days. And that’s a pretty dangerous age. It’s the age to learn when to say something or shut your mouth…and it’s pretty easy to say whatever you want with little to no repercussions if it’s on someone’s Facebook wall.
So that, along with the horrible stories in the news about kids killing themselves over cyberbullying, makes this that much more relevant now more than ever. Anything that opens up eyes to kids and adults to show that it just might be happening around them and it needs to stop is certainly needed. Heck, anything’s needed. Nowadays, turning off your computer or just unplugging isn’t an option — or at least it doesn’t feel that way.
I don’t know what words of wisdom this movie is going to have for kids and parents, and I certainly don’t know how gritty it will really get to the reality of cyberbullying. After all, it’s ABC Family. All was can hope for is that the writers behind Secret Life aren’t anywhere near it to genericize the content. But it’s a step in the right direction.
And it’s got a great cast. Emily Osment would steal the screen in Hannah Montana, and we all know what Kay Panabaker is capable of. Heck, even Being Human‘s Meaghan Rath is in it. That makes me confident in at least the acting skills.
So I’ll be checking it out. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for something quality. Anything helps the situation, right? I’m a girl. I certainly didn’t have it especially rough growing up, but I do know how mean people can be (especially high school girls). It’s a tough time in any kid’s life, and it frightens me how social platforms play a part in that.
But somehow, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” doesn’t apply when a keyboard’s involved.