Preventing Cyberbullying Among Children and Adolescents
Bullying is a national epidemic, and cyberbullying is quickly becoming a major concern amongst children and adolescents. The correlation between youth depression and bullying is evident. Even though cyberbullying happens online, it is no less harmful. Therefore, it is critical that we do everything in our power to prevent cyberbullying among children and adolescents.
What is Cyberbullying?
According to NCBI, “Cyberbullying is characterized by the use of electronic forms of contact that allow the perpetrator to remain anonymous and intensify feelings of discomfort in the victim.” Their extensive report also identities these different forms of cyberbullying: harassment, cyberstalking, denigration, impersonation, outing, trickery, and exclusion.
Unfortunately, some people do not treat cyberbullying the same way as bullying that involves physical contact. However, the consequences are often the same. Furthermore, the number of students either being bullied online or bullying others online is rapidly increasing. For instance, Bullying Statistics reports, “Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying.”
Teach Your Kids About Digital Citizenship
First things first, you must teach your children about digital citizenship. Children today are completely immersed in the online world. They are often unaware of how to use the internet ethically. Digital citizenship involves teaching them things such as giving credit to sources to not bullying others online.
A fantastic way to emphasize this idea is to explain the concept of digital footprints. Explain that everything you do online leaves a digital footprint that can be traced and followed. This explanation will open doors for a conversation about why you should not post certain things online or even say hurtful things to or about others online. You cannot erase your digital footprint.
Encourage Kindness in Others in Real Life and Online
While parents tend to encourage their children to be kind in real life, you now need to take it a step further. Cyberbullying gives the illusion of being able to say ugly things anonymously. However, as we just discussed, this is untrue. Teach your kids that if they would not say the things they write online in real life, then they should not say them online either.
Tell them to Take a Stand
Children, especially adolescents, live much of their lives online. They will see cyberbullying at some point. Tell them to take a stand and report cyberbullying. Make sure your child feels safe and comfortable talking to you about these types of things. But, you should also encourage your child to tell the teacher or the school counselor.
Provide Resources for Help
There are many excellent resources you can use to teach your child about cyberbullying. For example, there the Is Your Child a Cyberbully checklist (to help parents identify signs their child may be a cyberbully), as well as a Cyberbully Warning Sign Checklist (to help children identify signs they are being cyberbullied).
Cyberbullying is harmful and occurring more often than we realize. Talk openly with your children about the effects of cyberbullying and how to get help.