1: Kids have been bullying each other for generations. The latest generation, however has been able to utilize technology to expand their reach and the extent of their harm. This phenomenon is being called cyberbullying, defined as: “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.”
2: Cyber bullying occurs across a variety of venues and mediums in cyberspace, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it occurs most often where teenagers congregate.
3: Initially many kids hung out in chat rooms, and as a result that is where most harassment took place. In recent years, most youth have been drawn to social networking websites and video sharing websites. This trend led to increased reports of cyber bulling occurring in those environments.
4: Instant messaging on the internet or text messaging via cell phone also appear to be common ways in which youth are harassing others.
5: Estimates of the number of youth who experience cyber bullying vary widely (ranging from 10 – 40% or more) depending on the age of the group studied and how cyber bullying is formally defined.
6: Cyber bullying is a growing problem because increasing numbers of kids are using and have completely embraced interactions via computers and cell phones. Two- thirds of youth go online every day for school work, to play games, keep in touch with friends, or for many other reasons.
7: There are 2 challenges today that make it difficult to prevent cyber bullying. First, many people don’t see the harm associated with it. Some attempt to dismiss or disregard cyber bullying because there are more serious forms of aggression to worry about.
8: The other challenges relate to who is willing to step up and take responsibility for responding to inappropriate use of technology.
9: A child or teenager may be a victim of cyberbullying if he or she: unexpectedly stops using their computer or cell phone; appears nervous or jumpy when an instant message or email appears; appears uneasy about going to school or outside in general; appears to be angry, depressed, or frustrated after using the computer or cell phone; avoids discussions about what they are doing on the computer or cell phone; or becomes abnormally withdrawn from usual friends and family members.
11: A child or teenager may be engaging in cyber bullying if he or she is: quickly switches screens or closes programs when you walk by; gets unusually upset if computer privileges are restricted; avoids discussions about what they are doing on the computer or cell phone; or appears to be using multiple online accounts.
12: The best tack parents can take when their child is cyber bullied is to make sure they feel safe and secure, and to covey unconditional support. They must demonstrate to their children through words and actions that they both desire the same end result: that the cyber bullying stop and that life does not become even more difficult.
14: Overall, parents must educate their kids about appropriate online behaviors. They should also monitor their child’s activities while online, especially early in their exploration of cyberspace.
15: Parents may also utilize an “Internet use contract” and a “cell phone use contract” to foster a crystal clear understanding about what is and is not appropriate with respect to the use of technology.
16: The most impressive step that schools can take is to educate the school community about responsible Internet use.
17: Students need to know that all forms of bullying are wrong and that those who engage in harassing or threatening behaviors will be subject to discipline.
18: It is therefore important to discuss issues related to the appropriate use of online communications technology in various areas of the general curriculum. Signage also should be posted in the computer lab to remind students of the rules of acceptable use.
19: Students should already know that cyberbullying is unacceptable and that the behavior will result in discipline. School administrators should also work with parents to convey to the student that cyberbullying behaviors are taken seriously and are not trivialized.
20: Overall, it is critical for educators to develop and promote a safe and respectful school climate. A positive on-campus environment will go a long way in reducing the frequency of many problematic behaviors at school, including bullying and harassment.
21: Youth should develop a relationship with an adult they trust so they can talk about any experiences they have online that make them upset or uncomfortable. Youth should go online with their parents- show them what web sites they use, and why. At the same time, they need to be responsible when interacting with others on the Internet.