With modern day technology constantly advancing consistently throughout the past few years, it is almost unsurprising to see how bullying has taken on a new life completely, extending into cyberspace. Thanks to the growing popularity of social media such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, as well as the wide distribution of cell phones among the youth, bullying has spread to different forms and possibly even worsened over recent years. Several tragic stories made local and even national news of children dealing with the hardships of dealing with cyberbullying. Discover more on Cyberbullying Awareness!
Cyberbullying Awareness: How Cyberbullying Is Defined
Some concerned parents may have questions about what kind of behaviour specifically describes cyberbullying. Cyberbullying comes in several different forms, usually, it’s rather indirect as the Internet and cell phones are used as a medium for communication. Behaviour such as sending threatening and hurtful messages via cell phones, any social media account online, or through email, as well as spreading rumours with intent to damage a person’s image.
Also, cyberbullying is the spreading of images that depicts another person in a negative or unflattering light, online or through cell phones. Hacking into someone’s personal account, and posting on their behalf to damage someone’s image and integrity of their account is also classified as cyberbullying.
Any online activity as well as cell phone usage that is intended to say hurtful things spread rumours or do damage to another person’s image is bullying. This is especially true if any of the messages, rumours, or images being circulated is sexual in nature. This means, sexting, and spreading any sexually suggestive photos of another individual.
Cyberbullying Awareness: Consequences of Cyberbullying
It is extremely important for adult figures to be vocal with young teens and adolescents about the consequences of bullying, which includes cyberbullying. Consequences for many include the following. Many may lose access to personal online social media accounts as well as personal cell phone usage. Others may not be aware that any information and send messages put out online will be there for years to come and may likely resurface in the future.
Resurfacing of such online activities may reflect poorly on an individual when seeking out colleges to attend after graduation as well as seeking employment opportunities. If, as mentioned before, any of the cyberbullying was found to be sexual in nature, individuals who participated (non-victims) may have to register as sex offenders.
Cyberbullying Awareness: Cyberbullying Statistics
According to statistics gathered from the i-SAFE foundation, staggering amounts of young adults have experienced and even participated, in some way, in bullying online. Numbers reveal that over half of young adults and teens have been exposed to such situations online. Numbers also show that cell phones are most widely distributed among young people, thus having them be the most popular form of communication media, associated with bullying. From aiding in the spreading of slander via text messaging to spreading photos that depict another in a negative light through picture messaging.
Estimates show that over 1 in 3 teens and young adults have experienced some form of threatening messages either on the Internet or directly on their cell phones, a portion of them who have been exposed to this on repeated occasions. Studies show that a rather alarming amount of these young people fail to report any such online bullying to their parents or any other trusted adult figure. Those who are exposed to such bullying are more likely to consider suicide, as well as have issues with low self-esteem.
Cyberbullying Awareness: Awareness and Prevention
When dealing with young people, it is very important for parents to familiarize themselves with the problems of cyberbullying and cyber safety. When parents are educated, they can take the appropriate actions necessary to ensure that they not only raise awareness but can do their part to prevent such bullying. One effective way to help prevent such issues within a household is to have an open discussion with your teen. Inform them that bullying in all forms is wrong.
Discourage them from participating in such activities online or via cell phone usage, by talking to them about the consequences that such actions can have on themselves as well as the victim. Making sure your teen thinks about how “permanent” some online information can be once posted publicly on the Internet may make them think twice. Even if they were not the ones who started a rumour, or were the first to say hurtful things about another, spreading information or making comments adds fuel to the fire and holds them equally responsible.
Some parents take an extra step to create rules and boundaries within their home as a way to prevent cyberbullying. Requiring your teen to turn off all technology for a time period during the day or restricting the usage of such technology after a specific time of night are examples.
Even informing your child that if they are known to be participating in such bullying, they will lose their privileges to their personal cell phone and social media accounts; can be an effective punishment. Some will even place computers and devices with Internet access in shared places within the home to help adults better monitor their child’s activity in online communities.
Teens can do their part, by keeping their log-in information for their personal online accounts and access passwords for their mobile devices private. Such personal password information should not be written down in a place where it’s accessible to others unless it is a trusted adult or parent figure. This will help minimize situations where personal social media and email accounts are hacked.
Cyberbullying Awareness: Cyberbullying Victims
The tragic deaths of several teens who were reportedly cyberbullied helped gain media attention to the growing problem among the youth. Victims such as the young Amanda Todd, 13-year-old Ryan Halligan, and 7th grade Sarah Lynn Butler were all victims who found a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Their suicide stories made headlines and helped raise awareness among other parents of the seriousness of bullying. Being open with your child and talking to them at an early age about the effects and consequences of such actions can help prevent other similar situations to repeat themselves. Spreading awareness is the first step in helping to make a change.