In today’s world where almost every person has a cell phone or uses some form of social media like Facebook, bullying has taken on a new name. Cyberbullying can be defined as when someone repeatedly makes fun of another person online or repeatedly picks on another person through e-mail or text message, or when someone posts something online about another person that they do not like.
We are familiar with bullying, even I can remember a time growing up when I was either pushed by another kid at the playground or made fun of for the way I look; but there are differences with cyberbullying. Victims often do not know who the bully is or why they are being targeted. Cyberbullying is viral which means a large number of people can be involved and that means more people know about it. Finally, it is easier to be hurtful through electronics because it can be done from a distant location and the bully does not have to see the immediate response of the victim.
There are some warning signs you may be able to identify if your child is a victim of cyberbullying:
· Unexpectedly stops using their computer or cell phone
· Appears nervous or jumpy when a text message or e-mail appears
· Appears anxious and uneasy about going to school or outside in general
· Appears to be angry, depressed, or frustrated after using the computer or cell phone
· Avoids discussion about what they are doing on the computer or cell phone
· Becomes withdrawn from family and friends
If you feel as though your child is the victim of cyberbullying, work to make sure your child feels safe and secure with you and that you want the same goal as him/her, to put an end to it. Ask your child to print out and keep any evidence they may have of cyberbullying so that you can help with the situation. Report any inappropriate comments made on websites (Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, etc.). Use privacy setting to restrict any unauthorized use on your profile page.
There are even ways in which you can prevent cyberbullying before it starts. Educate your child on appropriate online behavior. Monitor your child’s activities while online either informally through active participation in your child’s internet experience or formally through software programs. Keep an open line of communication with your child so that they feel comfortable to come and talk to you. You can create an Internet Use Contract or Cell Phone Use Contract so your child has a clear understanding of what is appropriate and inappropriate use of technology.
Bullying is no longer found just in the classroom; it has become viral and has a far greater reach. You can do something about it now. Spread the word in your community that bullying and cyberbullying is not acceptable.