Using Cyberbullying Stories to Teach Digital Citizenship
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 cyberbullying.”
The older the children, the more likely it is they will encounter cyberbullying. The number of stories about cyberbullying is plentiful, and sometimes tragic. As you teach children about cyberbullying, you will need to be very careful about what examples you use. For younger students, make sure you use examples that are already resolved so that they know how things ended. You will need to use examples of cyberbullying that had negative results, as well as those that had positive resolutions, regardless of age group.
Be careful about the stories that you use, particularly if you use ongoing cases with older students. Older students will be able to understand the tragic endings, and you cannot entirely avoid them. However, you must be careful about how you teach these examples to ensure that students understand how to combat these situations to avoid the worst possible outcome appropriately.
For all age groups, discussions should revolve around how/why the events are cyberbullying and how the students would react if it happened to them. Make sure to draw parallels to their own lives if you notice that some students are beginning to show signs of cyberbullying their peers in discussion boards and forums at the school.
Cyberbullies feel like the anonymity the internet grants them allows them to be cruel or unfeeling. In modeling appropriate digital citizenship, you show your students that their digital footprint is indelible. Talk to your students about the ramifications of being a cyberbully. Discuss age-appropriate cases and their resolutions. Also, let them know there is no shame in being the target of a cyberbully. Encourage students to talk to you safely, without judgment.
Did we miss anything? What tips do you have for teaching students about cyberbullying and digital citizenship?