Facts about Cyber-Bullying and How to Help
Technological advances have meant many changes in everyday interaction - from cell phones to social media on the web provides up-to-date access to what’s happening around us. For teenagers, this access to the personal lives of peers, when combined with the anonymity of the Internet, is a recipe for an unregulated slew of cyber-bullying behaviours. Best College Hunt feels that it is important for parents to understand what cyber-bullying is in order for them to take steps to manage and protect the youth.
What is Cyber-Bullying?
Cyber-bullying is a type of harassment that basically involves a communication device, such as a computer, tablet, and/or smartphone. Though you may not be aware of it, many teens may have already posted embarrassing pictures and/or videos about someone that they know on a social networking site, like Facebook. However, tormenting can quickly escalate and as a result those very teens may start sending nasty messages to or about someone—including spreading rumours, name-calling, and gossiping—via the Internet or text messages, and sometimes teenagers may even create a mean website targeting a peer. For example, a teen may post photos of kids from school on a website, and have peers vote for the “fattest” or “ugliest” at school.
Why Do Teens Cyber-Bully?
Proactive reasons: Some teens turn to cyber-bullying because they want something. These kids also tend to target their peers online to demonstrate power or strength over someone else. Proactive bullies don’t have any qualms about deliberately hurting someone else to elevate their social status though, but nevertheless, it’s still something that parents should be aware about.
Reactive reasons: Sometimes, victims become perpetrators because they believe they’ve been wronged by someone. Revenge is something that should not be taught to children, because the consequences can be severe…
Internet junkies: Teens who are constantly plugged into the internet are more likely to take part in cyber-bullying than their less technologically inclined peers. The reason for this is that sometimes there simply is nothing better to do online.
Privacy: Having a personal computer—either in a bedroom or secluded corner of the house—also increased the likelihood that an adolescent bullied others online.
Steps to End Cyber-Bullying
Unsurprisingly, most teens refuse to talk to their parent(s) about their online activity, even when they’re in trouble. Despite this lack of communication though, there are steps that you, as a parent, can take to prevent your child from participating in cyber-bullying.
Internet safety: Talk about how to safely browse the web, starting at a very young age. The more you emphasize potential dangers, the more likely your child will be to steer clear of inappropriate behaviour. If that’s not enough, there are parental privacy settings that you can activate to help keep your children off of websites that he/she should avoid.
Make it public: Keep your computer in an open and relatively public area of your home, such as a family room or den. If your teen knows you’ll be able to see everything on the screen, bullying behaviour will be much less likely.
Impose limits: Pick a length of time that your teen is allowed to play online—and stick to it.
Discourage retaliation: Once something’s said online, it can never be taken back—even years later. Make sure that your teen’s treating peers with respect on and offline.
Don’t be rash: Parents often have the impulse to take the computer away after a troubling online incident, but resist the urge to make a snap decision.
Keep the lines of communication open: Talk to your child often and honestly.
Despite concerns about Internet use, there are many positive things about new communication technologies. Therefore it’s important to remember that it’s not the technology that’s the issue, but the behaviour.