Sometimes, it seems difficult to keep up with all the forms of bullying your child can be exposed to. The latest craze sweeping through many teenage circles is roasting, a cyberbullying trend that has many parents in an uproar. Understanding roasting and how it has the potential to impact teens and tweens is one critical step in monitoring your child’s online behavior.
What Is Roasting?
A roast is a form of bullying that is often mistaken for humor between friends. Many teens and tweens see it as simply another form of the banter that takes place at school or via text. During a “roast,” however, several individuals–often girls, who are more likely to engage in verbal bullying–gang up on another individual in an effort to mock them. In many cases, roasting continues until the individual “cracks” or has a meltdown as the insults reach increasingly higher levels.
Most teens and tweens don’t recognize roasting as a form of bullying. Instead, they see it as a continuation of normal behavior. They’ll insist that it’s “all in good fun” or that the victim “doesn’t mind.” In some cases, the victim may even have started the roast, putting out a picture and asking for people to roast them.
The Gender Bias of Roasting
In many cases, girls are more likely than boys to participate in roasting. Often, girls will band together in an effort to seem cool or in control. Their preferred target is often–but not necessarily–a boy. This bias continues through memes and other types of media posted by girls and their friends as increasing numbers of them join in on the so-called fun. Girls are highly competitive with one another. When they begin this negative behavior, they’ll often try to one-up one another, coming up with increasingly negative comments and jokes.
This gender bias, however, doesn’t mean that girls are the only perpetrators or that boys are the only victims. Girls can roast other girls, boys can roast girls; anyone can be a victim of roasting. It’s important that parents recognize that their children have the potential to be either bully or victim in order to understand the risks associated with this behavior.
Is Roasting Really Harmful?
If it’s just a bunch of kids having fun together, roasting can’t be that bad, right? Many parents may at first overlook this type of behavior, assuming that the kids are just joking with each other. Unfortunately, roasting can be incredibly harmful to kids. What one child intends as a harmless joke may hit another one way too hard. Other children will choose to pretend to ignore the behavior in an effort to appear cool. Meanwhile, internally, it’s causing damage. Cyberbullying is becoming an increasingly common cause of depression, self-harming behaviors, and even suicide among teens and tweens–and that means that, good-intentioned or not, roasting behavior can not be condoned.
Watching for Warning Signs
Any time one group of teens or tweens gangs up on another, especially if a group gangs up on a single person, it’s a good indication that the behavior needs to stop. These days most “roasting” takes place online. It’s often done among friends, so parents can’t rely on the sudden appearance of an unfamiliar individual on their children’s social media pages to key them in to trouble. If you suspect that your child is engaging in roasting, don’t wait for it to get out of hand. Instead, sit down and have a conversation with your child about appropriate online behavior and the risks associated with roasting–including why it’s not “all in good fun.”
Keeping your child safe online, monitoring their online behaviors, and teaching them to become positive online citizens can feel like a full-time job. It makes most every parent nervous when their teens are exposed to the pressure and drama of using certain types of social media. Your first reaction might be to just ban your tweens and teenagers from downloading apps like Instagram or Snapchat, it’s important to remember that they have positive aspects as well. Sooner or later, teens will need to learn how to navigate the online world responsibly. That’s why it’s a good idea to sometimes allow access to various apps, but to keep an open and ongoing conversation on the subject. We recommend monitoring on a regular basis by having spot checks on the actual mobile device itself because it is easy for teens to set up a second secret account that they have not given parents access to.
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