Before Cyberbullying Rules, what about the Cyberbullying Definition?

So what is Cyberbullying? The most accepted definition is that of Hinduja, S & Patchin, J.W.: “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.” In effect, it is everything that can be said to threaten, humiliate or hassle someone using modern technology, rather than bullying face-to-face. 42% of children acknowledge being Cyberbullied. These figures are obviously higher for LGBT children, running at over 63%.

Cyberbullying Responses: Education and Prevention

There are ways that both you and your child can help stop Cyberbullying. The first step is to talk to your child about bullying, and let them know that it is wrong, and why it is wrong. The consequences of bullying, both Cyber and ‘old-fashioned’, need to be explained to your child. This should not just include what the law and the school say, but also consequences in your own home.

Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that can oh so easily happen in your own home, and using punishments such as restrictions on technology privileges, and making sure they are enforced, is an effective way to help your child develop better online behaviours. Additionally, encourage your child to be open and honest about any bullying they witness or are victims of. If they know you will help, they will be more willing to come to you.

Online safety education is another key, and even if your child is not thrilled by the idea, you should have access to his or her online activities. Explain to them it is not a matter of not trusting them, but rather being concerned for their safety, and that adults are more experienced in seeing some of the warning signs a child may miss before a Cyber issue escalates.

For Cyberbullying Rules, Your child should also be made aware of the following:

  • The Cyber world is anonymous, so you cannot be completely sure the person you are talking to is who they say they are. Especially do not agree to meet someone you only know in the digital world without clearing it with your parents.
  • Do not share personal information online.
  • Do not share login details and passwords with anyone except your parents.
  • Explain that the Internet never forgets – if they do not want something to be seen by the world today, tomorrow or in years to come, do not put it online.

There are also a few simple Cyberbullying Rules that kids can follow which can limit the spread of Cyberbullying.

  • Do not pass along bullying messages.
  • Do not communicate with Cyberbullies – block them instead.
  • If they see evidence of bullying, tell a trusted adult.
  • Spread the word – keep the anti-bullying message moving among your peers.

Cyberbullying Rules: Warning Signs that your child is Being Cyberbullied

Assuming that your child has not told you about an issue, there are some signs that can indicate a bullying problem. They include:

  • Mood changes after using electronic devices, particularly frustration, anger or depression.
  • Withdrawing from friends and family members.
  • Uneasiness about going to school or social events.
  • Marked increase or decrease in the use of electronic devices.
  • Avoids discussions about electronic activities.

Cyberbullying Rules: What to do if your child is Being Cyberbullied

The first thing to do is let your child know they are not to blame. Often victims feel they are the ones at fault, but if they know they are not, and that they are loved for who they are, this feeling can be markedly reduced. If there is still evidence of emotional harm, seek therapeutic aid. Take steps to highlight your child’s strengths, help them participate in activities that match these, and make your child feel safe and accepted. Reinforce the steps that your child can take to reduce the risk of bullying, and ensure they do not respond, which could escalate the situation.

If things are getting more extreme, then the following Cyberbullying Rules should be considered:

  • Keep copies of all messages and/or photos as evidence.
  • If you know who the parents of the bully are, consider talking to them. They may be able to stop the problem at the source. Be advised that this may not work, or may even have negative effects, so your judgment and discretion should be exercised. Doing this in writing, rather than face-to-face, can be a less inflammatory way to approach the situation.
  • Report the incidents to your child’s school. At the very least they will be able to be extra vigilant to ensure there are no incidents on school property, or they may be able to resolve the problem.
  • Contact the bully’s service provider (internet or cell phone) with the evidence. The provider may close the Cyberbully’s accounts, or even the accounts of family members as well, to stop the problems.
  • Involve the police if the bullying is or may become criminal. Different states have different statutes on bullying, but these are guidelines for potential criminal activities at a state or even federal level:
    • Child pornography or sexual exploitation
    • Threats of violence and/or extortion
    • Obscene or harassing messages or phone calls
    • Stalking
    • Hate crimes

Cyberbullying Rules: What to do if your child is a Cyberbully

It is possible, although worrisome, that your child could be a Cyberbully. Even children who traditionally would not become bullies, like shy or introverted kids, can attempt Cyberbullying because of its distant and more anonymous nature. If you find that your child is being exceedingly secretive in Cyber activities, it could be because they are the perpetrator, rather than the victim.

In that case, you should explain to them why bullying is so bad, and explain the full potential consequences. They may already know how their victim feels, because they were being bullied themselves, but had not told you. If that is the case, you can defuse two problems at once. Consider involving school or police authorities.

Shock tactics like this, even if there is no intent that your child should be punished by these authorities, can be highly effective at scaring the child into halting their activities. You should increase the monitoring of your child’s electronic activities, or even revoke those privileges as a punishment.

And an important note – you and your child should think of ways that they can repair some of the harm they have caused to the victim. This is therapeutic and can provide closure for both involved parties.

Spread the word on Cyberbullying Rules Now!

Do you have more Cyberbullying Rules to teach other children? What are the most cyberbullying rules for you?