Cyberbullying & What to You Need to Understand
We have written about the bullying epidemic and how technology has made this age-old issue more intense and pervasive.
What I have recently learned is that kids who would have typically have not participated in an in-person bullying incident often become active participants in cyberbullying. And, it makes complete sense. Just think about how common “trolling” on the internet has become in our adult world? At the end of the day, a troll is a grown-up version of cyberbully.
If you’re as an active user of the internet as I am, which I suspect you are, then you have come across trolls on blogs or online forums. It amazes me that there are people, no less grown-ups, who participate in online harassment. Yet, it make sense that the detachment that the interwebs provides makes bullies out of people who would never become one IRL. The bully doesn’t see the victim’s facial reaction so they don’t take their actions as seriously as they would normally.
Given that over a third of kids surveyed have said they bullied at a moderate level throughout school my fear is that bullying will become more, not less common with the pervasiveness of technology.
You see, most people think of cyberbullying as only online harassment. But, I’ve learned from NS Teens (check out this interesting anti-cyberbullying video for tweens) that it includes other form of technological communication as well like mobile texting. So as technology allows our online and off-line worlds to become more intertwined we need to continue to be vigilant with our children.
We can’t fear the technology but rather educate ourselves and our children on how to live with it safely. The not-for profit Center for Missing & Exploited Children has an entire website geared towards educating our children on the issue of online safety. Even I have seen adults succumb to trolls. We cannot assume that our children are sophisticated enough to finesse the prickly social situations they must face, no less the embarrassment of being harassed.
And remember, whereas cyberbullying may give bullies anonymity it always leaves detailed evidence and this is something that most internet users, no less our children, don’t know.