When Kids Read Mean Tweets

When celebrities, sports stars and politicians read mean tweets its funny right? Their job involves being in the spotlight, under the scrutiny of the public eye and all that comes with it. Yet with a smirk and a shrug of the shoulders and the comments are easily forgotten.

But how would you feel if the person reading mean tweets was your son, your daughter or in fact you? Well on Monday we got to see just that with Canadian Safe School Network’s latest PSA, Kids Read Mean Tweets. The videos message is delivered using a similar format to that of Jimmy Kimmel’s Celebrities Read Mean Tweets, yet this versions purpose is not for comic relief. Instead the message is to stress the negative and often devastating effects cyber bullying can have on our children.

The President of the Canadian Safe School Network, Stu Auty explains why they positioned the campaign in this direction: “The ‘Mean Tweets’ model…gives the message that cyber bullying is ok – even funny.”

He continues, “Adult celebrities have the maturity and confidence to overcome these hurtful words. Children don’t. For regular kids, words can cut like a knife. Cyber-bullying is an epidemic that invades their lives and leaves many feeling like there’s no way out.”

The Canadian Safe School Network is a non-profit organisation that aims to eradicate bullying and youth violence within our schools and this non-traditional approach is providing mountains of exposure. Within five days of its release the video had gained over one million views on YouTube and its reach is only growing, all in all a successful campaign.

Yet unfortunately the issue will not disappear over night. Only 8 per cent of children admit to being cyber bullied while over 18 per cent of parents admit to their child being a victim and 31 per cent of people claiming they know a child within their community who has been effected. Clearly children are reluctant to seek help when cyberbulling is concerned and it is up to the bystanders who are letting this occur and the bullies themselves to realize the damaging impression they leave.

“We urge young people to stand up for those that are dealing with cyber bulling, instead of laughing at it. Witnessing cyber bullying and not saying anything makes you a bystander,” Auty says.

The PSA starts off with laughter accompanying the insults yet as takes a more drastic turn and the tweets become nastier and malicious, the video hits home and highlights the severity of the issue. Kimmel’s infamous segment has had multiple adaptations within his show including NBA Edition, NFL Edition and more recently even featured a President Obama Edition. The segment has had spin offs with YouTube celebrities now getting involved. However, this PSA is undoubtedly the most poignant.

With parents, teachers and the law unable to keep up with the continual evolution of technology and the social media that provides it is imperative that the issue is understood among the offenders. This unique method will hopefully be engaging enough to become the catalyst for change, because between you and me, the comic side of this video doesn’t last long.