Step One To Preventing Cyber Bullying: What Is It?
The first step for preventing cyber bullying is to know exactly what it is. Like bullying in the physical world, one instance of someone being mean to someone else doesn’t constitute bullying. It has to be a common occurrence to be referred to as bullying. However that’s about where the similarity to physical bullying ends. Cyber bullying happens between children, “tweens” or teens, i.e. two minors below the age of 18. One of the children is the instigator and carries out online behavior that torments, threatens, harasses, humiliates or embarrasses the other child. This is done using technology and could exist on various platforms such as the internet (often social media platforms), emails, text messages, or any other form of digital technology. Your children must be able to recognize the signs of cyber bullying very quickly, so that they can take action to stop it from getting worse.
Step Two To Preventing Cyber Bullying: Who Is It?
The answer of how to avoid cyber bullying may become clearer once we know who (as well as what) we’re looking for. We know that the “who” is going to be someone under the age of 18. And we know that they will have access to digital technologies. But further to that, who is likely to become an instigator of cyber bullying? Interestingly, the children who become cyber bullies are often very different to those that become physical bullies. They often have their own personal issues. They may not be physically strong or tough at all. They may well have been a victim of bullying (online or offline) themselves in the past, or even in the present. It’s rare that a child or teen that feels completely safe, secure and loved would be an instigator of cyber bullying. The children most likely to become cyber-bullies are those on either end of the social ladder. They are either very popular at school, and see their cyber bullying behavior somehow as a way to stay popular. Or hurting other people may make them feel more powerful. It may be that because they are popular, they think their friends will be less likely to stand up to them, for fear of losing their own popularity. Often children who are not so popular and have few friends at school will become cyber bullies as a way of helping them increase their self-esteem. They may believe that being the bully puts them in a position of power and respect, so their peers might like them more. They also have difficulty empathizing with their cyber bully victims, as they have nothing in common with them. If your child is on social media platforms, one way to avoid cyber bullying may be not to accept requests to be “friends” with people on either end of the social scale that they do not hang around with at school.
How To Avoid Cyber Bullying By Communicating With Your Children
No doubt the school your child attends does teach the children something about internet safety and cyber bullying. Schools have rules and policies around bullying, whether that be offline or online. However this is no substitute for the conversations you need to be having with your children on a regular basis. The more you can educate your children about all aspects of cyber bullying, the better. Here are some specific topics to discuss with your children with the aim of preventing cyber bullying.
What To Do If Their Friends Are Cyber Bullies
Many children are affected by seeing other children being victims of cyber bullies, as well as by seeing their friends inflict this behavior on others. If you’ve raised your children with great morals and a good understanding of the “golden rule” (treat others as you want them to treat you), then your children will have a good idea of what’s right and wrong. They need to be encouraged to stand up to their friends for what they know is right. This means asking their friends to stop the cyber bullying behavior, by telling them it’s not cool. Your children might be in a position to explain the effects of the cyber bullying to their friend in a way that might make their friend refrain from continuing with their unacceptable conduct.
Explain The Effects Of Cyber Bullying
The effects of cyber bullying on children can be devastating – generally far worse than the effects of physical bullying. The “sticks and stones” story is complete nonsense. Words are extremely harmful and have contributed to many teenage suicides. If you as a parent can communicate these affects openly with your children, and impress upon them the seriousness of the behavior, then hopefully they’ll be more likely to take action as soon as they see any evidence of cyber bullying. They need to act immediately, whether they are being targeted by a cyber bully, or they are seeing someone else becoming a victim. This can prevent the situation from becoming a whole lot worse.
Teach Children Not To Contribute To The Problem
Cyber bullies need help from others in order to really get to their victim. Other children may contribute greatly to the problem, whether they’re aware of what they’re doing or not. Often the way it works is that a cyber bully will post something embarrassing or nasty about their victim on a form of social media, lets say Instagram. It will have a certain reach, and so many other people will see the post. Hopefully these people will form their own opinions, but more often than not they’ll believe what they see. Then others who see the post will share it with their own “friends”, and it will quickly go viral. Many people who don’t know the victim will form an opinion of them. The victim will become aware that complete strangers are now looking and laughing at them, or not liking them – even though they haven’t even met! The victim may walk around not wanting to look at other people. They’ll wonder if these people have seen the post and be embarrassed, feeling awful just in case. It’s not hard to see then that the best way to stop a cyber bully from continuing with this behaviour is not to go along with it. Nasty messages should not be shared with others. And others need to have the courage to defend the victim online. This may have a massive positive impact on the victim, who will then discover they’re not alone, and that they still do have friends.
Preventing Cyber Bullying Is Possible
If you’ve been wondering how to avoid cyber bullying, the tips above should be helpful. Preventing cyber bullying certainly becomes easier the more you understand about it, and it’s important to teach your children how they can minimize the effects of the behaviour by communicating openly and honestly with them about it. If your son or daughter is a victim of cyber bullying, or if you are being bullied online yourself, there are steps you can take to stop the bullying. Stay tuned for further related articles to be posted soon on this site.