Young people are using the Internet more than ever and most have Internet access from home. For many children, the Internet isnít simply a convenient way to research or a fun afterschool activityóitís a big part of their social life. Emailing and chatting with friends are childrenís most common online activities after studying and playing games. But like many other social situations, some kids bully other kids online.
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is similar to other types of bullying, except it takes place online and through text messages sent to cell phones. Cyberbullies can be classmates, online acquaintances, and even anonymous users, but most often they do know their victims.
Some examples of ways kids bully online are:
Both boys and girls sometimes bully online and just as in face-to-face bullying, tend to do so in different ways. Boys more commonly bully by sending messages of a sexual nature or by threatening to fight or hurt someone. Girls more often bully by spreading rumors, sending messages that make fun of someone or exclude other. They also tell secret.
Its Effects on Kids
Victims of cyberbullying may experience many of the same effects as children who are bullied in person, such as a drop in grades, low self-esteem, a change in interests, or depression. However cyberbullying can seem more extreme to its victims because of several factors:
Cyberbullying can be a complicated issue, especially for adults who are not as familiar with using the Internet, instant messenger, or chat rooms as kids. But like more typical forms of bullying, it can be prevented when kids know how to protect themselves and adults are available to help.
Whether you are a parent, teacher, or other adult who works with kids, you can help stop cyberbullying. You can start by talking to kids about the issue and teaching them the rules below that will help prevent cyberbullying from happening to them or someone they know.
What Kids Need to Know:
Since most cyberbullying takes place at home, it's important that parents know about cyberbullying and that they get involved in preventing it. Just like parents help their kids avoid inappropriate websites, they can protect them from cyberbullying.
What Parents Can Do
Donít respond. If someone bullies you, remember that your reaction is usually exactly what the bully wants. It gives him or her power over you. Who wants to empower a bully?
Donít retaliate. Getting back at the bully turns you into one and reinforces the bullyís behavior. Help avoid a whole cycle of aggression.
Save the evidence. The only good news about digital bullying is that the harassing messages can usually be captured, saved, and shown to someone who can help. You need to do this even if itís minor stuff, in case things escalate.
Talk to a trusted adult. You deserve backup. Itís always good to involve a parent but - if you canít - a school counselor usually knows how to help. Sometimes both are needed. If youíre really nervous about saying something, see if thereís a way to report the incident anonymously at school.
Block the bully. If the harassmentís coming in the form of instant messages, texts, or profile comments, do yourself a favor: Use preferences or privacy tools to block the person. If itís in chat, leave the ďroom.Ē
Be civil. Even if you donít like someone, itís a good idea to be decent and not sink to the other personís level. Also, research shows that gossiping about and trash talking others increases your risk of being bullied. Treat people the way you want to be treated.
Donít be a bully. How would you feel if someone harassed you? You know the old saying about walking a mile in someoneís shoes; even a few seconds of thinking about how another person might feel can put a big damper on aggression. Thatís needed in this world.
Be a friend, not a bystander. Watching or forwarding mean messages empowers bullies and hurts victims even more. If you can, tell bullies to stop or let them know harassment makes people look stupid and mean. Itís time to let bullies know their behavior is unacceptable - cruel abuse of fellow human beings. If you canít stop the bully, at least try to help the victim and report the behavior.