Cyberbullying is the term used for the new and growing practice of using the internet, emails, text messages, social media websites like Twitter, Facebook, online forums, chat rooms or other digital technology to harass, threaten or embarrass others. Cyberbullying is becoming one of the major and most concerned topics of modern times. Cyberbullying is more common and widespread in teenagers. The young generation unlike their parent’s generation, often socializes, hangs out, and communicates online rather than in person, they prefer to text rather than talk on phone and often prefer to socialize on Twitter and Facebook rather than in restaurants and parks. This is the main reason teenagers are committing cyberbullying because they do not see the person face to face. It is very easy for them to hide behind the pretty screen and target a person.
With the advent of modern technology, bullying is no longer limited to schoolyards and streets. It can happen anywhere and anytime even at home. It can happen 24 hours and 7 days a week. Cyberbullies come in many forms and shapes. Almost anyone with an Internet connection or cellular phone can cyberbully someone else, often without having to reveal they’re true identity. Cyberbullies can torture their victims any time of the day and the bullying can follow the victim anywhere even at home with the click of a button.
Different forms of cyberbullying
The methods children and teens use to cyberbully can be as varied and imaginative as the technology they have access to. It ranges from sending threatening or taunting messages through email or text, to breaking into your email account or stealing your online identity to hurt and humiliate you. Some cyberbullies may even create a website or social media page to target you.
Effects of cyberbullying on teens
Effects of cyberbullying are devastating. Studies shows Cyberbullying can led to depression, anxiety and also be very annoying to the teenagers who are facing it. Cyberbullyingoften leaves teenagers with lowered self-esteem, less interest in school and low academic achievement. Cyberbullying mentally and emotionally scars the teens causing low self-perception, depression and in extreme cases suicidal thoughts. They might also feel alone, lonely, and isolated.
Tips for teens to avoid cyberbullying.
There are some tips for teenagers to avoid cyberbullying.
- Do not reply: If someone bullies you try to remain calm and ignore because your reaction is what bully want. It gives him or her control over you.
- Do not strike back: It is tempting to respond, but the best thing is not to. Responding with similar threats often makes the problem worse.
- Save the evidence: Take the screen shots. Online messages can usually be captured, saved, and shown to someone who can help. Save evidence even if it is minor. Cyberbullying can escalate.
- Use privacy tools: Use preferences or privacy tools on your devices all the time, if it happens while you are chatting, leave the “room.” Report any abusive comments to the social media website administrators.
- Call for help. Talk to parents or a trusted adult who can help.
- Block the bullies: Block the bullies on time. There is no shame to block someone who is harassing and humiliating you,
Tips for parents and teachers to prevent your teens from being a cyberbullied;
There is no perfect strategy on how to solve cyberbullying, although, if you know your child is being cyberbullied, the first thing to do is to be supportive and empathetic. children are often reluctant to tell parents or teachers about cyberbullying.
Spot the warning signs of cyberbullying.
- Your child may be the target of cyberbullying if he or she –
- Shows changes in mood, behaviour, sleep, appetite, or shows signs of depression or anxiety.
- has lower grades in class.
- becomes sad, angry, or worried while using the Internet or phones.
- Hides his or her screen or device when others are near or around.
- seems anxious when receiving a text or email.
- avoids discussions.
- secretive about computer or social media activities and passwords.
- Seems withdrawn or depressed or loses interest in people and activities.
- Isolates from family, friends, and activities they previously enjoyed.
- refuses to go to school or to specific classes or avoids group activities.
Prevent cyberbullying before it starts. Teach your children/teens to –
- block communication with cyberbullies.
- Ignore messages from people they do not know.
- Not to share photos, especially risqué one.
- never post or share their personal information online, including their full names addresses telephone numbers, the school’s name, parents’ names, credit card numbers, or their friends’ personal information.
- never share their Internet passwords with anyone, except you.
- talk to you about their life online.
- not send messages when they are angry or upset.
- always be as polite online as they are in person.
- Engage in offline activities.
Monitor your child’s technology use.
The best policy to avoid cyberbullying is to be vigilant. Regardless of how much your child dislikes it, you can only protect him or her by monitoring what they do online.
- Monitor children’s online activities.
- Get educated about your child’s virtual world.
- Know all family passwords, usernames, and accounts.
- Know how to log onto your kids’ sites. Keep the computer in a busy area of your house so that you can easily monitor its use, rather than in his or her bedroom where they have the freedom to use it independently.
- Teach children how to use technology responsibly.
- Set up filters on your child’s computer. Tracking software can block inappropriate web content.
- Find out whom children are speaking to, and making friends with, online.
- Insist on knowing your child’s passwords and learn the common acronyms children use online and in text messages.
- Encourage your child to tell you or another trusted adult if they receive threatening messages or are otherwise targeted by cyberbullies.
- Lastly, parents should proactively access cyber safety resources to become familiar with recent trends in the world of technology.