Cyberbullying Children Ultimate GuideEmail This
Lots of parents already know that cyberbullying can take place on popular social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, but may not realize that every week there's a new app or virtual game where potentially harmful conversations take place anonymously and without their knowledge. As a parent, it's important to take the time to understand cyberbullying-what it is, the different forms, where it happens, how you can set rules to prevent it, and apps to help you monitor your child's activities. Once you're armed with information and resources, you can help to prevent your child from becoming either a victim or a bully.
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is "the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature."
...is usually anonymous.
...can happen any time of day or night.
...often does not get reported because victims don't want to be a "snitch" or have their devices taken away from them.
...victims usually try to deal with the problem on their own.
...may have many witnesses who do nothing to stop it.
...happens easier than bullying in real life, because information technology is so accessible.
Anonymity tempts good kids to bully!
Before a parent can prevent and monitor their children with respect to cyberbullying, you have to understand what cyberbullying is so you can explain it in terms your children will understand. Perception and tone make cyberbullying difficult to define, because a child may think something is a joke, when it's actually harmful. Parents need to make sure they explain to their children in today's technological world that once something is said online, it's out there forever. You can't take back your words and there's always proof.
Cyberbullying can even be unintentional, when someone may have bullied your child and they think they're just defending themselves. It can feel like justice to a child who was previously wronged. Two wrongs don't make a right and it's important that guardians talk to their children about cyberbullying, so they don't became a victim or victimize another.
Types of Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying can take many forms and new methods are discovered as apps are created or new social platforms get adopted by kids. These are the most common and known forms of cyberbullying:
- Harassment – sending someone mean or hurtful messages, pictures, or other content individually or in a group.
- Denigration – creating profiles, blogs, websites, or other content that makes fun of someone.
- Flaming – a heated argument that often happens in chatrooms, IM groups, or other public forums.
- Outing – publicly sharing personal texts, emails, instant messages, or other private content for the purpose of harming or embarrassing someone.
- Cyberstalking – the repeated use of electronic communications to harass or frighten someone, for example by sending threatening e-mails.
- Impersonation – creating a fake profile or hacking into someone's account to post mean, harmful, embarrassing, or dangerous content about them.
- Sexting – trying to get someone to send an inappropriate picture or message to someone they like and then sharing the content with a group so it embarrasses them or gets them in trouble.
- "Happy slapping" – when a child is physically assaulted and filmed or photographed being harmed. The video or photo is often sent to a large group to embarrass or shame the person.
- "Text Bombing" – when mass text messages are sent to someone. This can range from simply being distracting to making it impossible for someone to use his or her device. The content of the messages can be emotionally and psychologically damaging as well.
Where does cyberbullying take place?
- Text messages
- Instant messenger
- Social media
- Chat rooms
- Voting sites
The following are several rules parents have shared that help them monitor their child's digital activities, set expectations of proper behavior, and foster teachable moments when something inappropriate does happen.
Advice to Help Prevent Cyberbullying
- Remind your child that mobile devices are a privilege, not a right.
- Must use all devices in a family room or common space
- Can't go to bed with their devices
- Must share password if the device is locked
- Set up parental controls on devices and computers
- Randomly monitor pictures, texts, and emails
- Monitor apps that are downloaded and used on devices
- Monitor online activity on different devices and the computer
- Don't let kids have their own iTunes account
- Don't share your iTunes password (and change it often)
- Befriend your children on social media
- When something happens, discuss it immediately
- Leverage teachable moments--reinforce why the rules exist immediately after an incident
What can kids do if they're being bullied? STOP. BLOCK. TELL.
- STOP. Stop engaging with whoever is saying something mean. Don't respond.
- BLOCK. Block the person on social media. Report the offending person to the social network/app for inappropriate behavior.
- TELL. Talk to them and tell them to stop. Tell your parents if it continues and tell the dean, another school administrator, or the teacher.
The last bullet is most difficult for most children, because they do not want to be a snitch! Most kids won't tell a grown up, because they're scared they'll lose their friends if they tattle. They're also scared they'll lose access to their devices, which means they won't be able to monitor the situation for themselves and they lose access to their friends, a punishment that is often more terrifying than the actual harassment.
What can parents do to help?
- Parents need to watch and listen to their kids. See if anything is off.
- Talk to other parents, their teachers, and befriend their friends.
It may seem overwhelming for a parent to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of what's popular in mobile technology for kids, but it doesn't have to be. Keep checking back for new updates.