Cyberbullying Awareness and Prevention
Today, with digital technology, the world is literally at our fingertips. With the touch of a button, we have access to information, people, and resources from anywhere around the world. With such access, there is a feeling of privilege – the expectation that with every search, information will be available and accurate. However, with that privilege come the responsibilities of digital citizenship. Parents and teachers play a very important part in educating today’s generation of digital natives about the dangers of the digital world, and about how each of us is responsible for our actions in cyberspace. What happens when that guidance is not available? What happens when children and adolescents are left to their own devices, having only their peers as models for an appropriate code of online conduct? Unfortunately, this is where there is increased opportunity for cyberbullying to occur.
Cyberbullying is bullying that occurs through text messages, e-mail, or social media channels. It includes insults, messages of hate, threats, and harassment. Kids use instant messages, tweets, and photo tags to deliver cruel and insulting messages.
Is your child a victim of Cyberbullying?
Some possible signs that your child is a victim of cyberbullying may include:
- Child becomes withdrawn, retreating into his/her room immediately after school
- Child seems to shrink away from interacting with friends and classmates, spending an increasing amount of time alone
- Child complains about headaches, stomach-aches, and has trouble sleeping
- Child complains of illness asking to stay home from school
- Child cries easily for no apparent reason
- Child spends long hours on the computer
- Child hides his/her online activities, and refuses to disclose ‘friends’ or contacts
- Child refuses to grant parents access to his/her phone or computer
Statistics indicate that as children become adolescents, incidents of cyberbullying increase dramatically. The good news is that there are many resources, videos, and public service announcements available for parents and teachers to access in order to support students in learning about the dangers of cyberbullying. Creating awareness also helps to discourage our children from engaging in such behaviours.
Below, I have posted a number of videos you may share with your child or students. If you are a teacher, share these videos with parents, and invite them to watch the videos together with their child. Educating young adolescents about cyberbullying is the first step toward preventing it.
This is the video I have placed at the top of this post. An adolescent boy feels completely alone as he experiences the harshness of cyberbullying. He creates a video for his mom, where he finally discloses his victimization. Click here…
A number of high school students share their experiences with cyberbullying. Click here…
This video uses the common virus as a metaphor for cyberbullying, demonstrating how cyberbullying infects many of our youth. Click here…
This video is short and poignant – a girl presents her monologue at a talent show, insulting another girl. The message is clear – words that are too harsh to say to someone’s face should also be too harsh to be posted on cyber space. Click here…
This is a fabulous video for parents, and includes five tips for preventing and stopping cyberbullying. Click here…
About The Author
This is an important topic and one that educators and administrators are currently very engaged in. Here in Nova Scotia, our provincial Minister for Education recently announced a series of initiatives to deal with bullying in all its forms, including cyber-bullying.
GoVenture (for whom I work: full disclosure) has recently decided to make the module on bullying from it's gamified photobook, GoVenture Health, available to teachers as a free educational resource.
Anyone interested in getting a copy can find it here: http://www.goventure.net/bullying