[Drugf33.org featured January KandidlyKristin 1/2022]
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is a form of emotional bullying that takes place entirely online and/or through devices such as phones, computers, and gaming consoles. It is typically meant to humiliate, embarrass, or discourage others by sharing personal or private information, or by degrading another person.
Cyberbullying is considered to be unlawful and/or criminal in some states and in some instances. Oftentimes, cyberbullying happens privately through text messages, messaging apps, or email, but many times it happens on a more public platform such as social media where there is maximum fallout.
To identify cyberbullying, you should understand the tactics used to harm the victims. Many of these you’ll recognize as the digital equivalent of bullying you’ve seen offline. Some tactics include:
Spreading rumors or making comments aimed to embarrass or cause emotional harm
Using digital means to notify a person of their intent to harm them
Communicating someone’s proposed worthlessness digitally and encouraging them to take their own life
Sharing hurtful or embarrassing content such as images or videos of the victim and mocking them
Pretending to be someone else to gather information about victims
Shaming someone online for their religion, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, etc.
Doxing: Searching for and sharing the private information of victims publicly with malicious intent
Here are some examples of cyberbullying tactics in action:
A young girl is sent hateful messages over messaging apps and texts because she likes the same popular boy that other girls also like.
A transgender child receives digital messages of disgust or death threats from other children just for being who they are.
A child goes to their first day of school in the best clothes they have, lets their picture be taken by fellow students thinking the students love their outfit, and later finds that those students posted the photos online and are teasing them for not having expensive name brand outfits.
These examples happen every day. They could be happening to your child, or your child could be the one bullying others.
“More research on social media and cyberbullying indicates that while only about 10 percent of teens have reported being bullied on social media, the harm can be far more lasting and severe than the typical school-yard bully name-calling.” Victims of cyberbullying can experience wide-ranging effects, including mental health issues, a desire to drop out of school, and even suicidal thoughts.
Be Aware of What Your Kids are Doing Online
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. Warning Signs a Child is Being Cyberbullied or is Cyberbullying Others Many of the warning signs that cyberbullying is occurring happen around a child’s use of their device. Some of the warning signs that a child may be involved in cyberbullying are:
Noticeable increases or decreases in device use, including texting.
A child exhibits emotional responses (laughter, anger, upset) to what is happening on their device.
A child hides their screen or device when others are near, and avoids discussion about what they are doing on their device.
Social media accounts are shut down or new ones appear.
A child starts to avoid social situations, even those that were enjoyed in the past.
A child becomes withdrawn or depressed, or loses interest in people and activities.
What to Do When Cyberbullying Happens
If you notice warning signs that a child may be involved in cyberbullying, take steps to investigate that child’s digital behavior. Cyberbullying is a form of bullying, and adults should take the same approach to address it: support the child being bullied, address the bullying behavior of a participant, and show children that cyberbullying is taken seriously. Because cyberbullying happens online, responding to it requires different approaches. If you think that a child is involved in cyberbullying, there are several things you can do:
Notice – Recognize if there has been a change in mood or behavior and explore what the cause might be. Try to determine if these changes happen around a child’s use of their digital devices.
Talk – Ask questions to learn what is happening, how it started, and who is involved.
Document – Keep a record of what is happening and where. Take screenshots of harmful posts or content if possible. Most laws and policies note that bullying is a repeated behavior, so records help to document it.
Report – Most social media platforms and schools have clear policies and reporting processes, but remember that these measures are largely ineffective. If a classmate is cyberbullying, report it the school. You can also contact app or social media platforms to report offensive content and have it removed. If a child has received physical threats, or if a potential crime or illegal behavior is occurring, report it to the police.
Support – Peers, mentors, and trusted adults can sometimes intervene publicly to positively influence a situation where negative or hurtful content posts about a child. Public Intervention can include posting positive comments about the person targeted with bullying to try to shift the conversation in a positive direction. It can also help to reach out to the child who is bullying and the target of the bullying to express your concern. If possible, try to determine if more professional support is needed for those involved, such as speaking with a guidance counselor or mental health professional.
Abstinence - As you work through the goal of going offline, be wary of re-immersing yourself with social media platforms even when it seems your loved one is "safe" from online bullies. The D.S.M. 7 Steps to Social Media Abstinence offers a helpful method for social media abstinence and recovery. Bullying doesn't end with hiding or negotiating with the source. When we start to look at social media applications as a substance and a bully in itself, we begin to unearth the necessity to walk away from these applications entirely.
Today's Post Features a Podcast from "The Kandid Shop"
Tyronica Gibson, Founder of Parent Playground app and host of the Shift Happens podcast!