Facebook has become a popular method for children to keep in touch with each other and socialize outside of school. Unfortunately, when kids start using the Internet to interact with each other, it often becomes a recipe for disaster. Bullies take the anonymity of the Internet and use it to their advantage to bully other kids. In fact, in 2011, as many as 16 percent of high school students have been bullied online. Understanding the typical Facebook bullying tactics and how to handle them will help you better protect your children online.
Facebook Bullying Tactics: Fake Profiles
One of the biggest problems with Facebook and other social media sites is it is easy to set up a fake profile. Students who are interested in bullying others are typically smart enough not to use their own profiles to give themselves away. Instead, they sign up for a free email address through a site like Yahoo or Gmail and then open a new account on social media sites to attack their targets. This makes it more difficult for the bullied individuals to identify who is bullying them and put a stop to it. While they can block the user, the damage may continue because of exposure to others who know the bullied individual.
Facebook Bullying Tactics: Bullying All Hours of the Day
Even though most parents put limitations on how long their kids can use the Internet each day, teenagers in particular often have mobile devices and smartphones they use to access the Internet at all times of the day and night. Those who are willing to break the rules to access the Internet, despite limitations put in place by their parents, are likely to target weaker individuals to bully them. When they use Facebook to bully their victims, they are able to make posts 24/7. This can lead to a fear of logging into Facebook every day for fear of what individuals may find on their walls. Even when known bullies are blocked, they seem to always find a way to target their prey online.
Facebook Bullying Tactics: More Methods of Bullying
Facebook opens up new methods of bullying that aren’t available through other avenues, including many other websites. For instance, Facebook allows users to post pictures. Pictures can lead to all kinds of problems, especially when these pictures are taken when someone doesn’t expect them or they are taken out of context. Once the picture has been posted, odds are many others have already seen it before the bullied individual sees it and is able to report it to get it removed from the site. By this time, the damage is done.
Facebook Bullying Tactics: Fast Distribution
Another major problem individuals need to be concerned with is the speed at which messages and other Facebook bullying tactics can spread. There are so many teenagers who are using Facebook, many of them connected together through various channels, that pictures, messages and other tools of bullying can quickly spread through an entire school and community, sometimes before the bullied individual realizes anything has happened. The speed at which this information spreads can be devastating to an individual’s reputation, making Facebook extremely dangerous as an avenue for bullying.
Posting something on your wall isn’t limited to staying there. In fact, anything that is posted on Facebook can be shared by other individuals who see it. This can create a ripple effect in the Facebook world.
Facebook Bullying Tactics: Deleting Information
Some people think posting information on Facebook can easily be remedied so there really is no long-term damage. An individual may post a picture with the intent of embarrassing another student with plans to remove the picture after a few people see it. Unfortunately, due to the way Facebook is set up, this picture may be passed along through a list of friends on several levels before the original poster removes it. By the time the individual deletes the picture or post they created, it has already circulated and cannot be removed as easily as intended.
Facebook Bullying Tactics: Constant Exposure
The constant exposure to Facebook bullying tactics can have a damaging effect on kids who are bullied. When kids are bullied in person at school or another location, they can go back home and get some relief from the constant bullying. When the bullying continues online at all times of the day or night, kids don’t get a break. This can compound the negative effects bullying can have on kids. These kids often become depressed, and withdrawn and may even become suicidal because of the negative pressures that surround them. This is why it is so important for parents to watch their children’s online activity closely.
Facebook Bullying Tactics: What Can You Do?
Facebook and other online bullying aren’t likely to go away in the near future. Short of keeping your children away from the Internet altogether, it isn’t much you can do to prevent the behaviour. Therefore, the best thing you can do is teach your children how to handle it if they become the victim on Facebook or anywhere else online. Talking to your children about what to watch for and encouraging them to report any behaviour they see is an important first step.
No matter how old your children are, it is important for parents to have their passwords. Some children fight this, but it is important for parents to be able to check on the status of their child’s account and monitor it for bullying and other negative behaviour. This isn’t the only thing parents can do for their children.
You know your children better than anyone else. While you can keep an eye on your child’s account, it is also important to watch his behaviour. Children who are bullied online or otherwise will show warning signs of being bullied that can help you open up the conversation before it is too late. There are too many stories in the news today where children are committing suicide or falling into drugs and other issues because of the bullying they endure. Make sure you watch your child for changes in behaviour, depression, isolation and anything else that is out of the ordinary. If you notice these signs, talk to him or her about what is going on and get the help your child needs.
Facebook Bullying Tactics: Security Settings
Parents should help their children set up their security settings on Facebook to reduce the dangers. However, if your child accepts a friend invite from someone who intends to bully him or her, it isn’t going to do much good. In addition to helping your children with their security settings and understanding the importance of setting them, it is important to talk to your child about not accepting friend requests from anyone they don’t directly know and teaching them how to block those who are causing trouble. Keeping their friend’s list limited to people they can trust will decrease the chances of becoming a victim of bullying through Facebook.
Facebook bullying tactics are growing and evolving. The use of the Internet and its potential anonymity are a recipe for disaster when it comes to bullying. It seems to be easier for children to lash out at others and make fun of them when they feel the risks of being caught are much lower. Because of these increased risks, it is critical for parents to stay on alert and monitor their child’s activity, as well as talk to them about the potential dangers. When parents are involved, the odds of the worst happening to your child because of online bullying will greatly decrease. Keep the channels of communication open. It just might save your child’s life and reputation.
Spread the word and teach others about those common bullying tactics and teach your loved ones how to escape those bullying tactics now!