Cyberbullying is repeated and intentional harm toward another person through the use of technology. Cyberbullying can be in the form of texting, rumor spreading, identity theft or threats. Cyberbullying is a new problem brought on by advances in technology. Because of this, parents have little personal history with how to prevent bullying from happening or how to address it.
Cyberbullying affects approximately 30% of teens. Those who are cyberbullied are often afraid to tell adults in their lives because they do not want to have their own technology privileges restricted or monitored.
Cyberbullying differs from physical or verbal bullying
- Often witnessed
- Victim can identify the bully
- Bystanders can support or befriend the victim
- The victim is in isolation (e.g. in his or her own home)
- No one witnesses the bullying
- Bullies are typically bolder because of the anonymous nature of electronic technology
- It is easier to control and insult the victim
- Hurtful, threatening words can go viral with a single keystroke
Signs and behaviors to watch for
- Stays away from the computer
- Shows more sadness or anger
- Disinterested in homework or school
- Disinterested in friends
- Avoids interacting with others
- On the Internet or cell phone often
- Laughs excessively while on the Internet or phone
- Will not discuss what he or she does on the computer
What parents can do
- Create and maintain clear rules for your child to follow online
- Monitor your child’s activity online
- Have conversations with your child about your family's Internet use
If cyberbullying occurs:
- Avoid blame. Talk with your child. Listen to him/her.
- Do not immediately take away your child's computer or cell phone; it will discourage your child from turning to you for help.
- Try blocking the user or turn the computer off for a while.
- Talk with teachers and other parents.
- If severe enough, contact authorities.
- Talk with children about not sharing passwords.
- Talk with children about not bullying other students online.
- Ask them: "Did a friend ever send you a hurtful message or text? Have you ever sent one?"
- Ask your child: "Have you ever received a text message that made you feel sad or angry?"
- Talk with children about being able to come to them if there is a problem online.
- Make sure that children are not visiting inappropriate websites. Instead of just telling them no, give examples about why it is bad.
- “Even though you are protected by not being in person with them, they are still strangers.”
- Don’t give away personal information, including full name, address, phone number, passwords, email, etc.
- Don’t send inappropriate pictures to anyone.