Common Sense Media released its latest research report, Social Media, Social Life: Teens Reveal Their Experiences last September. We went over the results of the report and its findings in a previous post, but found a specific portion of the results not just interesting, but necessary to explore further. The topic is hate speech versus cyberbullying.
For years, parents, teachers, administrators, and basically anyone who cared about the welfare of children were concerned about the internet and cyberbullying. The new research however, is finding that cyberbullying is decreasing. However, hate speech is seen all over the internet by kids and teens. Which cannot be surprising. Just look online. It’s everywhere.
First of all, let’s get the definitions clear. If someone is trying to hurt someone, or knows that they’re hurting someone, and does it repeatedly, that’s cyberbullying. When someone expresses vicious views about a group or toward an attribute of a group, that’s hate speech.
Cyberbullying is becoming somewhat rare. Just 13 percent of teens report that they’ve been cyberbullied at some point. And, 23 percent say they’ve tried to help someone who has been cyberbullied.
But, online hate speech is quite common. There’s been an increase in teens’ exposure to racist, sexist, religious-based and homophobic content on social media. According to USA Today, “Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of teens say they “often” or “sometimes” come across such posts.”
We found a great resource to help on CNN.com from their article “How to Talk to Your Kids about Online Hate Speech.” They came up with a helpful tool to help you and your family deal with hate speech on the internet.
Practical Ways to Manage Hate Speech:
- Report it. Hate speech violates most sites’ terms of service. You can report people without their knowing that you’re the one who turned them in.
- Block it. You can block people who use hate speech, but this can be tricky socially for some kids.
- Don’t share it. Forwarding any form of hate speech is wrong — but it can also get you into trouble because it can be traced back to you.
- Read age-appropriate news from reputable sources.
- Learn more. Hate often stems from ignorance. Media designed for your kids’ ages can help them learn about history and people’s struggles in terms that they can understand and relate to.
- Call it out. If your kids feel confident enough to confront the hate speech poster without fear of attack, then they should do it.
- Fight it. Nurture the values of empathy and compassion in your kids. Challenge them to consider how other people feel and how they would want to be treated.
Project B3 knows it is crucial to have open and honest conversations about these topics with your children. Even is your child isn’t the one making ignorant, hateful comments online, they need to know to never, ever “like” or make supportive comments or jokes about them. Their digital footprint will follow them throughout their lives and what they say and do NOW matters and can and will matter in the future.