Although Internet usage offers a plethora of benefits, it also has its drawbacks. Cyberbullying is one of those drawbacks. Cyberbullying can take on many forms, targeting girls and boys alike. Your teen may receive threatening messages through instant messaging or text. Someone may break into your personal email account or post negative material about you on a social media site. Cyberbullies have even been known to steal people’s online identities to cause them harm.
Dangers of Cyberbullying
In some ways, cyberbullying can be even more threatening to a teen than traditional bullying, as it can occur anytime, anywhere without teens even knowing who or where the bullying comes from. A cyberbully could be a classmate, “friend”, neighbour or complete stranger out to cause trouble. Using the Net, bullies can lie, threaten, harass and humiliate their victims at the touch of a button. Some teens increase the risk of being bullied by posting unwise remarks or revealing photos of themselves on social sites. Other teens are simply chosen as victims of malicious acts.
Just as young people through ignorance can fall prey to online bullying, they can also be tricked or enticed into becoming cyberbullies themselves by listening to misguided peers and friends. There are many incidents of young people getting together and posting negative comments or photos of classmates online as a prank. This harmless teasing can easily escalate into spreading gossip or lies that humiliate their peers and tarnish their reputation.
Cyberbullies can be guys or girls and the form in which they bully often varies. “Sexting” (sending texts that are sexual in nature) and threats are more common among male bullies. Female bullies are more likely to gossip about their victims or spread rumours and lies to attack their character. The irony is that being a bully doesn’t necessarily protect young people from being targeted. Bullies can themselves become victims of cyberattacks.
There are a number of books on cyberbullying on the market today that can help educate parents and teens on the dangers of online bullying and how to prevent cyberattacks. As the old saying goes “To be forewarned (about cyberbullying) is to be forearmed.” The more familiar parents and young people become with cyberbullying tactics, the better they can protect themselves from cyberattacks.
Effects of CyberBullying
As cyberbullying can occur literally anywhere, young people need to be on guard with their cell phones and social media activities. Teens and tweens can be very naïve about socializing online, leaving themselves open to cyberattacks. Most anyone with Internet technology can be a cyber bully if they really wanted to, making it more difficult to track these people down. Many cyber attacks come without warning, catching young people completely by surprise. They may go on their favourite social site and discover embarrassing photos or hurtful comments that have already been posted about them and gone viral.
Cyberattacks can have a devastating effect on young people as they humiliate them before peers and friends. They can cause hurt, anger, anxiety and depression. The worse part of cyberbullying is that young people can’t always tell who is the culprit and why they are being targeted. This can make victims feel helpless and isolated as they don’t know who to turn to for help or how to defend themselves. According to Luke Roberts, National Coordinator of the Anti-Bullying Alliance in Britain, “Cyberbullying increases isolation and impacts on mental health more than other forms of bullying.” This is because cyberattacks can reach far and wide in very little time, leaving victims powerless to react.
How to Prevent Cyberbullying
As a parent, there are measures you can take to protect your children and teens in an effort to prevent cyberattacks. By reading through cyberbullying books and articles, parents can learn more about how cyberbullies work so they can protect their kids from being targeted. A good cyberbullying book will share valuable counsel on protecting your kids from Internet dangers. Many of these books also share lessons from teen victims on how to handle this type of bullying without succumbing to guilt, shame, fear or depression. Cyberbullying has destroyed the lives of many young students who felt there was no recourse for fighting back. In some cases, young people resorted to suicide to escape the trauma of cyberattacks.
There are many parents who can learn by reading books about cyberbullying and putting this knowledge into effect. The following are some practical steps gleaned from cyberbullying books and articles that can be used to prevent cyberattacks:
- Set boundaries for your kids when using tablets, home computers, laptops or cell phones.
- Teach your children how to use the Internet safely, i.e. never sharing personal info online or passwords with their friends.
- Teach your kids good Internet conduct to include treating others with courtesy and respect
- Monitor your children’s computer use on a regular basis.
- Set nighttime limits on the use of cell phones and computers.
- Encourage your kids to report cyberbullying incidents to you immediately so you can take action to protect them. Kids should never respond to threatening emails or texts.
- Block all cyberbullying communications right away and report threatening messages to your local police.
Best Books on Cyberbullying for Parents and Teachers
Much research has been done on the problem of cyberbullying by experts in this field. Many of these experts have written excellent books on the subject to give parents, teachers and teens a better understanding of the problem. By tapping into these authors’ experience and expertise, parents and teens can gain valuable insight into dealing with this problem.
The following books have been highly recommended for parents, providing them with valuable and practical advice on the subject.
1. Understanding Cyberbullying: A Guide for Parents and Teachers (author: Mona O. Moore). Through this book, parents can learn more about cyberbullying characteristics and traits. The author also offers strategies for helping victims and witnesses cope with cyberbullying along with legal action that can be taken against bullies for perpetrating bullying acts.
2. Cyberbullying & Cyberthreats: Responding to the Challenge of Online Social Aggression, Threats and Distress (author: Nancy E. Willard). The author provides valuable counsel on dealing with online aggression after the fact. Parents can learn how to help their kids cope and overcome these events.
3. Bullying & Cyberbullying: What Every Educator Needs to Know (author: Elizabeth Kandel Englander). Written for educators, this book offers a wealth of information on recognizing the telltale signs of cyberbullying abuse (and abuser), enabling teachers to intercede on their students’ behalf.
4. Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying (2nd edition) (authors: Sameer Hinduja & Justin W. Patchin). By incorporating personal stories of cyberbullying victims, the authors give parents a clearer picture of the causes and repercussions of online bullying so they can take action against it. The authors also take time to explain the various forms of cyberattacks along with strategies for reporting and handling each.
Best Books on Cyberbullying for Teens
1. The Bullying Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Deal with Social Aggression and Cyber Bullying (author: Raychelle Cassada Lohmann and Julia V. Taylor). This book helps teens deal with the emotional repercussions of being bullied. It contains valuable insight for coping with the social pressures that cyberbullying can cause.
2. Words Wound: Delete Cyberbullying and Make Kindness Go Viral (authors: Sameer Hinduja & Justin W. Patchin). This book challenges teens to change their attitudes towards bullying and become part of the solution to cyberbullying instead. It offers practical advice and strategies that teens can put into effect to stop bullying and promote online kindness. The authors include dozens of testimonies from young bully victims and the part they played in combating cyberattacks.
Cyberbullying books and articles play an important role in educating parents, teens and educators about online bullying and providing solutions to this problem. They also help highlight the problem of online aggression to increase public awareness on this topic. As public awareness of this problem grows, people will begin to take it more seriously and be willing to join the anti-bullying ranks.
Finding solutions to cyberbullying is in the best interest of everyone who uses the Internet. By working together to eliminate cyberbullying acts, Internet users will benefit from a safer, more inspiring online environment.