Parenting is no easy task. Even though parents throughout time have faced all types of challenges, each era with its own unique problems and solutions, parents of this decade are dealing with situations that would have been unimaginable to parents as little as two decades ago. In addition to the normal concerns that parents encounter, the emergence of mobile phones and the internet as household staples has led to a new and very real danger for children: cyberbullying. Where do you find cyberbullying help?
|SEE ALSO: How to Deal With Cyberbullying|
Cyberbullying is defined as bullying that takes place using technology. Types of devices and communication platforms often used in cyberbullying include:
- Mobile phones
- Social media sites
- Instant messaging/chat programs
Common examples of cyberbullying include:
- Mean text messages, emails or posts
- Rumors sent by text, email, or over social media
- Sending or posting embarrassing photos or videos
- Creating fake/embarrassing profiles
Cyberbullying has taken normal bullying and elevated it to a faster, easier way to hurt and humiliate victims, often encompassing the victim’s entire life. Over the past several years, more and more stories have surfaced about teens who committed suicide after suffering from abuse by cyberbullies. One example was the case of Amanda Todd.
A Real Example of Cyberbullying
Amanda Todd fell victim to a cyberstalker who first convinced her to flash her breasts online and then used the photo to blackmail her. The cyberbully also created a fake Facebook profile for Amanda using a photo of her breasts. No matter what Amanda and her family tried to do to end the bullying, she was unable to escape from her stalker. Amanda created a video documenting her struggle with cyberbullying, which she posted online. A little over a month after posting the video chronicling her experience, Amanda hung herself in her home.
How Bad Can It Get?
Children who are being cyberbullied are often bullied in person as well, but unlike a child who only suffers from in-person bullying, the cyberbullied child often can’t escape their tormentors. Cyberbullies can strike any time of the day or night, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Unlike in-person bullying alone, cyberbullies have the unique ability to distribute their comments, photos or other hurtful behaviors to a large audience in a matter of moments.
Once a bully has posted a rumor or photo onto the web, it can be nearly impossible to remove it. Children who are being cyberbullied are more likely to skip school, receive lower grades, have low self-esteem, and to potentially begin experimenting and becoming addicted to controlled substances such as drugs or alcohol.
Being aware of what children are doing online, who they are talking to, and knowing what websites they are visiting is the first and often most important preventative measure that parents can take against cyberbullying. Talking to children and reassuring them that they can and should report any type of cyberbullying is essential. Fostering open communication between parents and children is a key factor in stopping potentially dangerous situations from occurring.
Are There Resources?
Statistics on cyberbullying are challenging to find and compare because of the ever-changing face of technology; however, according to stopbullying.gov:
- The 2008–2009 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that 6% of students in grades 6–12 experienced cyberbullying.
- The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey finds that 16% of high school students (grades 9-12) were electronically bullied in the past year.
What Can You Do?
Seeking cyberbullying help doesn’t have to be difficult for parents. As the frequency and severity of this new problem arise, so do the resources available to provide cyberbullying help for parents and children. Here are a few examples of resources you can make use of:
- Stopbullying.gov – This government-run website focuses solely on all forms of bullying and includes information on how to talk to children about what to do if they or their friends are being bullied.
- Cyberbullying.us – This site is a one-stop resource for all kinds of information about cyberbullying, with online resources for parents, children, and educators, along with a blog, research materials, articles and helpful links.
- Commonsensemedia.org – Log on to this site to find educational videos and toolkits for children, educators and parents about cyberbullying. The site is even divided into different age groups so users can access specific cyberbullying help for the relevant age group.
Partnerships between parents, students, and educators are also a highly effective method of identifying, preventing, or stopping bullying, both in person and in cyberspace. Many children who are being bullied or who are witnessing someone else being bullied don’t share information with parents or teachers. Children may be too embarrassed to tell that they are being bullied, or they are, maybe, afraid that the bullying will get worse if the bully finds out that the victim told.
Children who are witnessing bullying may think it’s not their business or place to tell, or they may be afraid that the bully will turn on them if they get involved. Parents and educators should both take the time to assure children that bullying is always wrong and should always be shared with a parent, teacher, or another respected adult figure.
Very often, bullies are looking for attention and admiration from their peers. Encouraging children to stand up against bullies for themselves and their friends is one of the most effective ways to stop bullying in its tracks.
Cyberbullying.us reports that although cyberbullying is on the rise, “normal” bullying is still more common. Additionally, the same children who are victims of traditional bullying are more likely to be victims of cyberbullying, and the children doing the bullying are likely to be the same online and in person.
So, What is Cyberbullying?
When electronic technology is used, such as the Internet, to bully an individual, it is referred to as cyberbullying. This can occur on any type of device by which the Internet can be accessed, such as computers, tablets, mobile phones, and other handheld devices. There are a number of ways cyberbullying can occur, including the receipt of disparaging emails or text messages, negative postings on social media networks, embarrassing rumors being passed through email or text, fake profiles or websites being created, and embarrassing pictures or videos being created.
It is not uncommon for children or teens who are being cyberbullied to be bullied in person, as well. Additionally, it is difficult for these same children to remove themselves from this type of negative behavior. There is no time limit to when cyberbullying can occur because the Internet never turns off. Therefore, it can occur seven days per week around the clock.
The problem with the Internet is that many cyberbullies can post their messages and images anonymously, and a lot of people can see these postings quickly. If the cyberbully is savvy on the Internet, it can be virtually impossible to trace who is posting and where they are posting from. Once a disparaging or embarrassing message is posted or sent, it becomes very difficult for the victim to delete this information.
What is the Cyberbullying‘s List of Long-term Effects?
Cyberbullying cannot be blamed on computers and mobile phones alone. There are many positive benefits to using computers, as well as to the use of social media websites. Through the use of social media, students can work together on homework, families can effectively communicate with each other, and friends can actively stay connected in a positive manner. However, these positive tools can also be used as methods of causing harm to people as well. No matter if the harm is caused in person or over the Internet, the effects are very similar to one another.
Common Effects of Cyberbullying in Teens
- Be more inclined to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
- Want to miss school more often, or ask to be absent more often because they are “sick.”
- See a decline in their grades when they were previously doing well.
- Have a lower self-esteem when they previously felt good about themselves.
- Skip school when they previously had good attendance and no previous infractions.
- Experience bullying face-to-face inside and outside of school.
- Experience more issues with cyber bullying than just one or two instances.
- Are sick more often when they were previously a healthy person.
How Can Teens Be Protected From Cyber Bullying?
You can take preventative measures, but you cannot control what other people are doing in other households. While it would be great to go to the other parents and tell them to stop their children from doing what they are doing, this is not always the best solution. The best solution is to stop what is going on within your own household first.
The first step is to install monitoring software that will not only allow you to see what is going on when your child is online but will allow you to install parental controls. The next step is to set up ground rules for your children to include not sharing any personal information online. In addition to this step, it is a good idea to “follow” them on all the social media websites they are a member of. That way, you can see who is talking to them and report or block any issues as they occur.
When you see your child being cyberbullied, keep all the evidence and file a report immediately. This evidence will not only help you understand what is going on but also answer the question, “what is cyberbullying”. That type of proactive step will help stop the bully in their tracks. Ask your child not to respond to the bully at all both online and in person.
Sometimes, the child will have a theory as to who the bully is, even if they are making anonymous posts, but it is best to leave these situations up to the authorities. This is especially true if threats of violence are made against your child. Make sure that the police and your child’s school are both contacted.
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