How do we reach a Cyberbullying Definition Today?
Decades ago phrases such as “I hate you”, “You’re stupid”, and “No one likes you” could be heard on the playground, in the school cafeteria, down school hallways, and on the school bus. These bullying phrases were limited to being in the presence of the bully. In 2014, the bully has an extended reach through electronic communication. If your child is being bullied this way, he may receive texts that call him names, and tell him he’s worthless or unlikeable. Cyberbullying affects your child 24 hours a day and if he repeatedly reads the messages, your child’s self-esteem, mental health, and social inclusion will suffer. Unfortunately, your child may not always tell you if he’s being cyberbullied, but he will always need your help.
The cyberbullying definition includes being bullied, threatened or manipulated through electronic methods such as cell phones, computers or gaming systems. The cyberbullying definition for kids may be different and children often describe bullying as a “mean” text. The ways in which the cyberbully communicates are through things such as:
- Cell phones
- Social media
- Voice-controlled game systems
- Chat rooms
If you suspect your child, or yourself, is being cyberbullied, ask him these few questions:
- Have you received a text message that threatened or insulted you?
- Has an embarrassing or ugly picture of you been posted online through social media or other websites?
- Have you received a mean or violent e-mail?
- Has anyone spread rumours about you through text messages, social media, chat rooms or e-mail?
- Has your social life been affected by a bully’s attempts to separate you from a group?
- Have you discovered a fake profile that contains personal information or pictures of you?
- Has anyone falsely “tagged” you in a photograph or video on social media or websites?
- Have you heard mean, negative or threatening comments through your child’s video-game headset?
These questions do not cover all the ways cyberbullies attack, but they can give you an idea of a dangerous situation. A cyberbully will continuously find new ways to reach out and make your child’s life miserable. The definition of cyberbullying includes threats and abuse that occur in your home, at work, while travelling, or anywhere. The bullies have access to you and your child 24 hours a day. It can be a non-stop, vicious attack that leads to personality changes. If you see any of these changes in your child, seek the advice of a medical practitioner:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Lack of motivation
- Disrespect for you or other authority figures
- Difficulty sleeping
- Increase or decrease in eating
- Increase or decrease in physical activity
- Anger- expressed or unexpressed
- Suspected drug or alcohol use
- Withdrawal from friends or family
- Drop in school performance
The cyberbully definition describes someone who targets another to make the person feel bad about themselves. The bully’s goal is to bring about all the above character changes. In reality, the bully does not feel good about himself and desires to make everyone else feel bad too. The electronic advancements have only made it easier on the bully as he gets to hide behind a cell phone, computer screen or gaming microphone. Any worries about a physical confrontation are reduced as he viciously, verbally attacks others.
The meaning of cyberbullying may not always be clear to you, school authorities or law enforcement. The way children can attack another is incomprehensible at times, but it does happen. The cyberbully wants to show dominance and superiority by cutting others down and he reaches into every school in every country- worldwide. However, not all children report being cyberbullied and not all cases are reported to the school or legal system. In Africa, for example, only 51.6 percent of those being bullied told their parents. That leaves a lot of children suffering in silence with the hope that the abuse will end.
The best thing you can do is keep open communication with your child. It is acceptable for you to view your child’s phone and e-mail messages to observe the types of communication your child is receiving and sending. This keeps him accountable and safe.
Worldwide, the cyberbullying definition dictionary description depicts the same types of abuse- unkind words meant to threaten, harm, suggest physical violence, scar emotionally and damage self-esteem.
In the United States, approximately 15 percent of students between grades 9 and 12 reported being cyberbullied. If you have a high school that contains 2,000 students, approximately 300 are being cyberbullied. That is 300 students living in daily fear, feeling anxious, scared, angry and depressed. These children can lash out at others, which continues the cycle and interferes with the learning environment. In the United Kingdom, Childline, a helpline for troubled children, reports an 87 percent increase in the number of contacts regarding cyberbullying for the year 2013. Cyberbullying reaches into Africa, as well. One in every five students between grades 8 and 12, in Africa, report being cyberbullied. This is approximately 16.9 percent of school-aged children. Most reported receiving upsetting text messages, while others were called names or had been the victim of rumours.
In the United Kingdom, girls, more than boys, reached out for help from cyberbullying attacks. Cyberbullying is the number one concern for children under the age of 11 in the United Kingdom. Between the ages of 12 and 15, cyberbullying drops into the second greatest concern following behind family relationships. As the children age, between 16 and 18, cyberbullying drops to the 10th highest concern following others such as depression, pregnancy, family relationships and trouble with friends.
With all the various ways a cyberbully can attack it is difficult to finalize a complete what is cyberbullying definition. Plus, the meaning of cyberbullying can be different to each individual. Talk with your child to hear if he feels bullied. A random text message from an upset friend who is letting off steam is different from an acquaintance who messages or e-mails every hour of the day in an attempt to make your child feel bad.
If you discover your child is the victim of cyberbullying, collect any evidence such as text messages, e-mails, social media postings, videos and pictures. Take screenshots of images if possible. Remove all these examples of bullying from your child’s sight so he does not have to continue looking at it. Many children are afraid you will isolate them from electronic communications, so reassure your child this is not true, but do set up protective barriers such as blocks from the bully’s number.
If your child is being cyberbullied, and whether you know the bully or if he is anonymous:
- If the situation is life-threatening, call the local emergency system immediately.
- Collect the facts- save any texts, e-mails, chats or messages.
- Set up a meeting with the school district to present your evidence
- Review the school’s policy on bullying
- Talk to the school’s liaison police officer if possible
- Talk with the school’s guidance counsellor for your child
- Remind your child to avoid contact with the bully- do not respond to texts, messages or e-mails
- Refrain from electronically talking to other parents about the situation and avoid posting anything about it on the internet
- Contact the website and social media administrators to remove any unwelcome postings, videos, images or tags.
- Report the bullying to social media sites.
- Block the bully from the phone, e-mail, social media or gaming system.
- Contact your phone carrier to block the bully’s number and to track all contact from the bully.
- Contact your local law enforcement for details on how to handle the situation
When trying to reduce the occurrence of online bullying, remind your child to do the following:
- Do not use their last name.
- Do not post the name of their home town.
- Do not post sexy or unflattering pictures.
- Do not friend anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable.
- Do not post their phone number.
- Keep their settings private and only share information with trusted family and friends.