Cyber bullying is real-life issue and it is one that will not be going away any time soon. Unfortunately, it is the new normal for today’s youth. The Internet is simply a new platform for bullying and is just as hurtful and harmful- if not worse- than the bullying you remember from your childhood.
Cyber bullying is defined as the use of electronic communication to harass a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature. It is not limited to messages, though. Other examples of cyber bullying are:
- Pretending they are other people online to trick others
- Spreading lies and rumors about victims
- Tricking people into revealing personal information
- Sending or forwarding mean text messages
- Posting pictures of victims without their consent
What makes cyber bullying possibly more traumatizing than simply being bullied at school or in gym class or at that one place you didn’t fit in, cyber bullying can reach you anywhere, everywhere and at anytime. According to the Cyber Bullying Inquiry, “Cyberbullying has the capacity to reach a much wider audience, continue around the clock, affect children in both public and privates places – from schools to their bedrooms – and escalate quickly if people share or comment on bullying content.”
We’ve compiled a short list of ideas to stop Cyber Bullying starting in your home and some ideas of how to respond if it does:
- Keep your child’s laptop, computer, iPad or iPhone in a common area of the home. Do not allow devices in your children’s bedrooms. Do your best to monitor their online usage.
- Become familiar with the latest apps and social media sites they are using. Some apps are almost tailor-made for online bullies. Ask your children to show you what they’re up to online in a non-invasive way.
- Talk regularly and specifically with your children about online issues. Let them know they can come to you for help if they encounter anything inappropriate, upsetting, or dangerous. Let them know you are their ally.
- Build a trusting relationship with your children. Set time limits and explain your reasons for them. Come up with rules for online safety and Internet use, together, as a family. This way, they’ll be more inclined to follow them.
- Tell your children NOT to respond to any cyber bullying threats or comments online. However, do not delete any of the messages. Instead, print out all the messages, including the e-mail addresses or online screen names of the cyber bully. You will need the messages to verify and prove there is cyber bullying occurring.
- Try not to overreact. If they are being bullied, be calm, supportive and understanding. Find out how long the bullying has been going on and reassure them that you’ll work together to find a solution.
- On the flip-side, don’t under-react. Never tell your children to “shrug it off” or just deal with the bullying. The emotional pain of being bullied is very real and can have long-lasting effects.
- Don’t threaten to take away your children’s devices if they come to you with a problem. This only encourages kids to be more secretive. Work together to solve the issue and build an even more trusting relationship.
- If there are threats of physical violence or the bullying continues to escalate, get law enforcement involved. This is their job and they are trained to deal with these situations.
At Project B3, we hope that you’ll never have to deal with cyber bullying in your home. But, hoping something away is not an action plan. Project B3 knows that having plans in place is the best way to combat issues like cyber bullying.