Imagine a classmate posts a photo of themselves online. Someone else makes a mean, mocking comment about the photo. Soon, that photo has been shared, liked, reposted—even made into a meme. Thousands of people have seen it, even people the person being targeted doesn’t know. That’s why cyberbullying can be extra hurtful: it’s public, it spreads quickly, and it’s 24/7.
It is important to understand how children are cyberbullied so it can be easily recognized and action can be taken.
Digital media and apps allow children to communicate and express their creativity, connect with peers, and share their feelings. However, they can be an avenue through which cyberbullying occurs. There are many types of apps and sites available for free that give users the ability to search for people and share or post information about them anonymously.
Parents may not be aware of the apps that their children use regularly or may not be aware of the risks involved in using them. There are many ways that cyberbullying can be hidden in apps and sites, such as texts, videos, and web calls that disappear or do not appear on the device’s call or text message logs.
When cyberbullying happens, it is important to document and report the behavior so it can be addressed.
Parents create trust with children by initiating open, honest discussions. These dialogues are an opportunity to communicate values and expectations about your family’s appropriate digital behavior, including viewing or sharing content, and apps they can and cannot use.
The digital world is constantly evolving with new social media platforms, apps, and devices, and children and teens are often the first to use them. Some negative things that may occur include cyberbullying, sexting, posting hateful messages or content, and participating in negative group conversations. If your child posts harmful or negative content online, it may not only harm other children; it can affect their online reputation, which can have negative implications for their employment or college admission.
A child may be involved in cyberbullying in several ways. A child can be bullied, bully others, or witness bullying. Parents, teachers, and other adults may not be aware of all the digital media and apps that a child is using. The more digital platforms that a child uses, the more opportunities there are for being exposed to potential cyberbullying.
As much as teens love mobile technology, research shows that they’re looking for guidance on how to manage their digital lives, but they readily acknowledge that their parents aren’t up to the task. Teens are just as likely to turn to a friend for advice on managing online and social media privacy as they are to ask an adult, according to a companion study by Pew Research. When it comes to mentoring and monitoring our children’s digital lives, it seems, most adults are dropping the ball.
Teens today live a huge portion of their lives online. In fact, according to a study from Pew Research Center, 92 percent of teens report going online daily—including 24 percent who say they go online “almost constantly.” Why so much online activity? The accessibility of smartphones, of course. Fully 91 percent of teens go online from mobile devices at least occasionally. Among these “mobile teens,” 94 percent go online daily or more often. That’s a lot of time spent looking at a screen. Just like you want your teen to stay safe in school and at the mall, you need to be sure they’re being smart about how they handle themselves online
The adoption of new digital technology is so rapid that a uniform and proactive concept of responsible use is often overlooked. With these constant changes, the irresponsible, and often dangerous and malicious use of these digital devices can lead to negative, life-altering consequences.