CYBERBULLYING AND YOUR CHILDREN
Bullies are nothing new, but Internet accessibility has given rise to another type of bully. It has created cyberbullies who bully others via electronic devices. Cyberbullies use e-mail, instant messages, blogs, chat rooms, and social networking sites as well as cell phone text messages and photos to harass their victims.
Cyberbullies utilize the Internet for the following:
- Sending insulting messages
- Spreading rumors
- Posting embarrassing photos
- Posing as someone else and sending messages supposedly from the victim
- Sharing someone’s secrets online
- Threatening the victim and making him or her live in fear
- Excluding their victim from an online group
Who is affected by cyberbullying?
Middle school and high school aged youth are the most likely to be affected. Your child may be a victim and not tell you. Or your child may be a cyberbully.
Why do kids cyberbully?
Children become cyberbullies for the same reasons they bully in person. It makes them feel important. But unlike bullies, cyberbullies can hide behind anonymity on the computer and be just as mean or meaner to others.
What are the dangers of cyberbullying?
Victims of cyberbullying can get so upset and/or depressed that they attempt suicide or hurt others. While bullies my threaten children at school, cyberbullies “invade” your home so that there’s no escape from them. Hurtful messages or pictures can be e-mailed, posted online or forwarded via cell phones, making the bullying widespread and long lasting.
What are some warning signs a child is being cyberbullied?
Warning signs may include; unexplained anxiety, anger, sadness, or fear, especially after using the computer of cell phone. Falling grades, lack of interest in friends, school or other activities, trouble sleeping, more or less interest in the computer or cell phone.
What can parents and guardians do about cyberbullies?
- Talk to your children. Tell them to let you know if anyone is being a cyberbully. If someone is, have your child save all communications from that person, including e-mails, Internet Messages (IMs), and text messages.
- Report incidents to the Internet or Cell Phone provider, your child’s school and/or police if you fear your child is in danger.
- Find out how to block the cyberbully’s e-mail address or phone number or change your child’s online information.
- Note that filtering software cannot prevent cyberbullying.
What can your children do?
- If one of your children receives a hurtful message, he or she needs to tell you about it, but not send a message back. Responding negatively to the cyberbully, or forwarding the hurtful message on to others, makes your child a cyberbully as well.
- Avoid websites where cyberbullying occurs.
- To keep others from being hurt, your children should report any instances of someone they know being cyberbullied.