What is Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites.
Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.
Why Cyberbullying is Different
Kids who are being cyberbullied are often bullied in person as well. Additionally, kids who are cyberbullied have a harder time getting away from the behavior.
- Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reach a kid even when he or she is alone. It can happen any time of the day or night.
- Cyberbullying messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience. It can be difficult and sometimes impossible to trace the source.
- Deleting inappropriate or harassing messages, texts, and pictures are extremely difficult after they have been posted or sent.
Effects of Cyberbullying
Cell phones and computers themselves are not to blame for cyberbullying. Social media sites can be used for positive activities, like connecting kids with friends and family, helping students with school, and for entertainment. But these tools can also be used to hurt other people. Whether done in person or through technology, the effects of bullying are similar.
Kids who are cyberbullied are more likely to:
- Use alcohol and drugs
- Skip school
- Experience in-person bullying
- Be unwilling to attend school
- Receive poor grades
- Have lower self-esteem
- Have more health problems
Source: Stop Bullying Gov
Cyberbullying – Spotting the Signs
- Young people today are using the Internet for just about everything, including bullying.
- Every day all across the nation, people are being cyberbullied in the comfort of their own homes.
- Often students who are being bullied at school go home with hopes of escaping, only to find that when they get on the Internet, the bullying continues.
- Though a teen may be being bullied, they may not know that help is available or may feel too embarrassed to speak up.
- With the amount of time young people are spending on the Internet or on their phones, it is important to be able to spot the signs of cyberbullying.
- Keep in mind that cyberbullying may be happening on top of other victimization.
- Teens may be experiencing physical bullying, dating violence, harassment, stalking, or other forms of victimization.
- Fortunately, victim service providers are qualified and trained to recognize the signs of victimization and are skilled in providing effective victim services.
- Eighty percent of victim service providers believe that they are uniquely qualified to both recognize the signs of bullying and cyberbullying, so it’s time teens know where they can turn for help.
* *Statistics from the National Crime Prevention Council’s 2010 Cyberbullying Prevention Research study
- Becomes withdrawn or shy
- Shows signs of depression
- Is extremely moody or agitated
- Is anxious or overly stressed out
- Shows signs of aggressive behavior
- Suddenly stops using the computer
- Changes eating or sleeping habits (e.g., nightmares)
- No longer wants to participate in activities once enjoyed
- Hurts self, attempts or threatens suicide
- Suddenly changes friends
- Doesn’t want to go to school
- Gets into trouble at school
- Skips school
- Loses interest in school
- Drops in grades
Signs That A Teen May Be Cyberbullying Others
- Stops using the computer or turns off the screen when someone comes near
- Appears nervous or jumpy when using the computer or cell phone
- Is secretive about what they are doing on the computer
- Spends excessive amounts of time on the computer
- Becomes upset or angry when computer or cell phone privileges are limited or taken away
The biggest red flag is a withdrawal from technology
- If you notice a sudden change in a computer or phone usage, talk to the child.
- They may be being cyberbullied.
Bullies and mean girls have been around forever, but technology now gives them a whole new platform for their actions. The old “sticks and stones” saying is no longer true — both real-world and online name-calling can have serious emotional consequences for our kids and teens.
It’s not always easy to know how and when to step in as a parent. For starters, most kids use technology differently than we do. They’re playing games online and sending texts on their phones at an early age, and most teens have devices that keep them constantly connected to the Internet. Many are logged on to Facebook or Tumblr and chatting or texting all day. Even sending an email or leaving a voicemail can seem old-school to them. Their knowledge of the digital world can be intimidating to parents.
But staying involved in kids’ cyber world, just as in their real world, can help parents protect them from its dangers. As awareness of cyberbullying has grown, parents have learned more about how to deal with it. Here are some suggestions on what to do if this modern type of bullying has become part of your child’s life.
What Is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person. By definition, it occurs among young people. When an adult is involved, it may meet the definition of cyber-harassment or cyberstalking, a crime that can have legal consequences and involve jail time.
Sometimes cyberbullying can be easy to spot — for example if your child shows you a text, tweet, or response to a status update on Facebook that is harsh, mean, or cruel. Other acts are less obvious, like impersonating a victim online or posting personal information, photos, or videos designed to hurt or embarrass another person. Some kids report that a fake account, web page, or online persona has been created with the sole intention to harass and bully.
Cyberbullying also can happen accidentally. The impersonal nature of text messages, IMs, and emails make it very hard to detect the sender’s tone — one person’s joke could be another’s hurtful insult. Nevertheless, a repeated pattern of emails, texts, and online posts is rarely accidental.
Because many kids are reluctant to report being bullied, even to their parents, it’s impossible to know just how many are affected. But recent studies about cyberbullying rates have found that about 1 in 4 teens have been the victims of cyberbullying, and about 1 in 6 admit to having cyberbullied someone. In some studies, more than half of the teens surveyed said that they’ve experienced abuse through social and digital media.
Effects of Cyberbullying
No longer limited to schoolyards or street corners, modern-day bullying can happen at home as well as at school — essentially 24 hours a day. Picked-on kids can feel like they’re getting blasted nonstop and that there is no escape. As long as kids have access to a phone, computer, or other devices (including tablets), they are at risk.
Severe, long-term, or frequent cyberbullying can leave both victims and bullies at greater risk for anxiety, depression, and other stress-related disorders. In some rare but highly publicized cases, some kids have turned to suicide. Experts say that kids who are bullied — and the bullies themselves — are at a higher risk for suicidal thoughts, attempts, and completed suicides.
The punishment for cyberbullies can include being suspended from school or kicked off of sports teams. Certain types of cyberbullying can be considered crimes.
Signs of Cyberbullying
Many kids and teens who are cyberbullied don’t want to tell a teacher or parent, often because they feel ashamed of the social stigma or fear that their computer privileges will be taken away at home.
Signs of cyberbullying vary, but may include:
- being emotionally upset during or after using the Internet or the phone
- being very secretive or protective of one’s digital life
- withdrawal from family members, friends, and activities
- avoiding school or group gatherings
- slipping grades and “acting out” in anger at home
- changes in mood, behavior, sleep, or appetite
- wanting to stop using the computer or cell phone
- being nervous or jumpy when getting an instant message, text, or email
- avoiding discussions about computer or cell phone activities
How Parents Can Help
If you discover that your child is being cyberbullied, offer comfort and support. Talking about any bullying experiences you had in your childhood might help your child feel less alone.
Let your child know that it’s not his or her fault, and that bullying says more about the bully than the victim. Praise your child for doing the right thing by talking to you about it. Remind your child that he or she isn’t alone — a lot of people get bullied at some point. Reassure your child that you will figure out what to do about it together.
Let someone at school (the principal, school nurse, or a counselor or teacher) know about the situation.Many schools, school districts, and after-school clubs have protocols for responding to cyberbullying; these vary by district and state. But before reporting the problem, let your child know that you plan to do so, so that you can work out a plan that makes you both feel comfortable.
Encourage your child not to respond to cyberbullying, because doing so just fuels the fire and makes the situation worse. But do keep the threatening messages, pictures, and texts, as these can be used as evidence with the bully’s parents, school, employer, or even the police. You may want to take, save, and print screenshots of these to have for the future.
Other measures to try:
- Block the bully. Most devices have settings that allow you to electronically block emails, IMs, or texts from specific people.
- Limit access to technology. Although it’s hurtful, many kids who are bullied can’t resist the temptation to check websites or phones to see if there are new messages. Keep the computer in a public place in the house (no laptops in children’s bedrooms, for example) and put limits on the use of cellphones and games. Some companies allow you to turn off text messaging services during certain hours. And most websites and smartphones include parental control options that give parents access to their kids’ messages and online life.
- Know your kids’ online world. Ask to “friend” or “follow” your child on social media sites, but do not abuse this privilege by commenting or posting anything to your child’s profile. Check their postings and the sites kids visit, and be aware of how they spend their time online. Talk to them about the importance of privacy and why it’s a bad idea to share personal information online, even with friends. Write up cellphone and social media contracts that you are willing to enforce.
- Learn about ways to keep your kids safe online. Encourage them to safeguard passwords and to never post their address or whereabouts when out and about.
If your son or daughter agrees, you may also arrange for mediation with a therapist or counselor at school who can work with your child and/or the bully.
When Your Child Is the Bully
Finding out that your kid is the one who is behaving badly can be upsetting and heartbreaking. It’s important to address the problem head-on and not wait for it to go away.
Talk to your child firmly about his or her actions and explain the negative impact it has on others. Joking and teasing might seem harmless to one person, but it can be hurtful to another. Bullying — in any form — is unacceptable; there can be serious (and sometimes permanent) consequences at home, school, and in the community if it continues.
Remind your child that the use of cellphones and computers is a privilege. Sometimes it helps to restrict the use of these devices until behavior improves. If you feel your child should have a cellphone for safety reasons, make sure it is a phone that can be used only for emergencies. Set strict parental controls on all devices.
To get to the heart of the matter, talking to teachers, guidance counselors, and other school officials can help identify situations that lead a kid to bully others. If your child has trouble managing anger, talk to a therapist about helping your son or daughter learn to cope with anger, hurt, frustration, and other strong emotions in a healthy way. Professional counseling also can help improve kids’ confidence and social skills, which in turn can reduce the risk of bullying.
And don’t forget to set a good example yourself — model good online habits to help your kids understand the benefits and the dangers of life in the digital world.
Source: Kids Health Org
- Nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online. 1 in 4 has had it happen more than once.
- 70% of students report seeing frequent bullying online. Filling up your friends’ Facebook feeds with positive posts instead of negative ones can boost school-wide morale. Start a Facebook page for students to submit positive acts they see in school to promote a culture of positivity on and offline. Sign up for Positivity Page.
- Over 80% of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most common medium for cyber bullying.
- 68% of teens agree that cyberbullying is a serious problem.
- 81% of young people think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person.
- 90% of teens who have seen social-media bullying say they have ignored it. 84% have seen others tell cyber bullies to stop.
- Only 1 in 10 victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse.
- Girls are about twice as likely as boys to be victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying.
- About 58% of kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than 4 out 10 say it has happened more than once.
- Bullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide.
- About 75% of students admit they have visited a website bashing another student.
Source: Do Something Org
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