What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices like a cell phone, computer or tablet. It can occur through SMS, text messages, apps or even online social media, forums or gaming. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else that causes embarrassment or humiliation. At times, cyberbullying can even cross the line into unlawful or criminal behaviors.
What does it look like?
It’s important to know what cyberbullying looks like so that you can easily recognize it and take action. It’s also important to make sure that your children and teens know what it looks like. Below are some of the most common tactics used.
- Posting comments or rumors about someone online that are mean, hurtful, or embarrassing.
- Threatening to hurt someone or telling them to kill themselves.
- Posing a mean or hurtful picture or video.
- Pretending to be someone else online in order to solicit or post personal or false information about someone else.
- Posting mean or hateful names, comments, or content about any race, religion, ethnicity, or other personal characteristics online.
- Creating a mean or hurtful webpage about someone.
- Doxing, an abbreviated form of the word documents, is a form of online harassment used to exact revenge and to threaten and destroy the privacy of individuals by making their personal information public, including addresses, social security, credit card and phone numbers, links to social media accounts, and other private data or other personal characteristics online.
- Noticeable increases or decreases in device use, including texting.
- A child exhibits emotional responses (laughter, anger, upset) to what is happening on their device.
- A child hides their screen or device when others are near, and avoids discussion about what they are doing on their device.
- Social media accounts are shut down or new ones appear.
- A child starts to avoid social situations, even those that were enjoyed in the past.
- A child becomes withdrawn or depressed, or loses interest in people and activities.
- Talk regularly with your children about online issues. Be specific and let them know that they can come talk to you if they are concerned about something being inappropriate, upsetting or dangerous.
- Build trust with your children by setting limits but explaining your reasons for them and discuss rules for safety and Internet use. Get your children involved in establishing the rules so that they are more likely to follow them.
- Keep computers in a common area of the home. Monitor their online use.
- Learn about the various types of social networking apps and sites. See the link provided. https://www.familyeducation.com/mobile-apps/a-complete-guide-to-potentially-dangerous-apps-all-parents-should-be-aware-of
- Tell your children to not respond to any cyberbullying threats or comments. However, make sure they don’t delete any messages. Instead print them out, along with the email addresses or social media handles. This will help prove that there is cyberbullying happening.
- If there are threats of physical violence or the bullying continues to escalate, contact law enforcement.
- Report cyberbullying on the social media platforms and to schools. Most social media platforms and schools have clear policies and a reporting process.
- Don’t over or underreact by either blaming your child or telling them to shrug it off.
- Talk to the school’s guidance counselor so they can pay attention to anything happening at school.
- Tell your children to not be an accomplice by forwarding messages to other kids.
- Set clear expectations with your children about online and messaging behaviors.
- Educate your children on the harmful effects of cyberbullying.
- Identify which apps are appropriate for your child to use and which are not.