"It's not about the technology, it's about the behavior. Think before you type." (Deidre's House, The Center for Morrris County's Child Victims)
Cyberbullying is a unique form of bullying. Cyberbullying allows for anonymity and accessibility, occurring at any time, day or night. Cyberbullying can be complex as children oftentimes do not report it for fear of losing internet and phone privileges themselves. Cyberbullying is defined as bullying occurring through email, instant messaging, in a chat room, on a website or gaming site, and/or through digital messages or images sent to a cellular phone. (http://www.cyberbullyhelp.com)
The following link provides guidelines for reporting cyberbullying on common social networking sites:
What can you do if you are being cyberbullied?
1. Don't respond to any messages or posts written about you, no matter how hurtful or untrue. Responding will only make the situation worse.
2. Don't blame yourself.
3. Don't seek revenge. It will only make the problem worse and could result in serious legal consequences.
3. Unplug from technology. Prevent communication from the cyberbully.
4. Get help. Reach out to an adult who can help (parents, counselor, family members).
5. Report threats of harm and inappropriate sexual messages to the police.
What can parents do?
1. Keep open lines of communication with your child so that your child feels comfortable coming to you.
2. Educate your child regarding appropriate internet use.
3. Let your child know that you will not tolerate inappropriate internet use. Convey to them that if situation should arise, you will intervene rationally and logically and not make the situation worse.
4. Monitor your child's activities on the internet, especially early on. You can do this informally by being an active participant in their internet usage. You can also do this through software.
Recognizable signs of cyberbullying (stopbullying.gov):
- Noticeable, rapid 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- A child becomes withdrawn or depressed, or loses interest in people and activities.
If you or your child believes that he or she is being cyberbullied:
1. Convey unconditional support to your child. Make your child feel safe and secure.
2. Let your child know you want the cyberbullying to stop as well.
3. Work together and arrive at a mutually agreeable course of action, one that your child has a say in and feels comfortable with.
4. Contact your child's counselor, teachers or an administrator to make them aware of the situation.
5. You may wish to work with your internet provider.
6. Police should be approached if any physical threats are involved or a crime has been committed.
Cyberbullying Research Center
For some helpful tips, check out www.cyberbullyhelp.com/parenting-in-the-digital-age/ and https://cyberbullying.org/resources/teens.