Cyberbullying has become a persistent issue in the age of technology, but there are lots of ways you can be proactive and protect your family. Here's how:
Bullying and cyberbullying both involve intentionally harming a person over a long period of time by aggressive behavior that causes them mental or physical harm.
Bullying can happen just about anywhere people live or work together. Bullies usually love to pick on someone who's different or doesn't quite fit in. Maybe their style is unusual or they don't look or sound like everyone else. This should be a reason and time to celebrate our differences. Unfortunately, bullies try to make themselves feel superior by bringing others down.
In the past, we imagined the caricature of a large, oafish school bully who would shove a kid into a locker. Or maybe the "mean girls" exchanging negative whispers directed at some unsuspecting victim. Technology has given bullying a new and changing face. With 24/7 access to the internet and our personal electronic devices, cyberbullying can run rampant. Anonymity can also provide a sense of power for bullies who feel they can hide behind a screen.
There are many different tactics an internet bully can use to target their victims, so knowing what these look like can help you recognize the warning signs and red flags:
If you or someone you have has been a victim of cyberbullying, you are not alone and you are not powerless. According to a report from the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics about 20 percent of U. S. students from ages 12 to 18 experienced bullying at school. A large portion of this occurred online.
If you want to protect yourself, your child, or another family member from being cyberbullied, check out these tips
Unfortunately, it's not always easy for kids and teens to admit they're being cyberbullied. It can often provoke secrecy, shame, and pain. Knowing the signs and symptoms can help to address cyberbullying before it becomes out of control:
Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, WhatsApp, Youtube, Twitter, and ASKfm are apps with the highest potential for cyberbullying. Apps that include a disappearing message feature like Snapchat and Instagram can be especially dangerous. Users can open unwanted content that immediately disappears. Or, users may send personal inappropriate content that can be saved by another individual, thinking that it will disappear. Remember that once posted or sent on the internet, it never disappears.
We know it can be difficult to keep up with all the new apps kids and teenagers are using, but talk with your child before he or she decides to download a new app. Talk about the potential dangers and issues to be aware of when engaging with others online, especially in the age of technology where privacy has become a huge concern.
Teenagers often have a skewed sense of sensitivity and awareness- especially when they can't see the reaction of a person they hurt. Sometimes they'll attempt to justify their own behavior as “joking around,” not cyberbullying. Often they don't think about the consequences for the victims. With the long list of potential issues, cyberbullying has also been known to result in victims' changing schools and even committing suicide. Talk with your kids and teens about the weight of their words and actions.
Don't downplay cyberbullying, as "kids being kids," or "not a big deal." It can wreak havoc on the victim's daily life. If you suspect your child is cyberbullying, encourage them to tell the truth about their actions. Talk with them about the consequences of their actions and follow-through.
Sometimes victims may be cyberbullying in retaliation. Talk with your child about how even if they didn't "start" the issue, they become an equal part of the issue if they respond in turn with bullying. Encourage openness in communication so that you can appropriately address the situation.
Parents should teach their children to be careful on the internet and when sending text messages. Educating your family about consequences and safety on the internet is very important. By addressing the issue at its root, remaining educated, and fostering open communication, we can better protect and empower our families. And be sure to download FamilyApp for the safest and most private messenger app out there.