Do you know what cyber bullying is? Like bullying that takes place in the playground or school yard, it involves the use of hurtful words and threatening sentences and actions. Those who suffer from cyber bullying may find that it comes from their classmates, friends, or even from people they don’t know online.
While you may not know or see the person face-to-face as they bully you or your child, their words and actions are still hurtful. If it’s happening to you or your child, you’re not alone. Around one-in-five children experiences cyber bullying, and it’s more common for students between 10 and 15 years old.
If Australian society is going to end online bullying, parents, schools, and children need to get involved. When you learn more about what cyber bullying is, the harms it causes, and how you can prevent it, you’re helping yourself, your loved ones, and society as a whole.
What is Cyber Bullying?
If you’re going to play a part in stopping cyber bullying, you need to know what it is. Here are some examples of what it could involve:
- Sending hateful messages to someone online or via apps
- Harassing and embarrassing someone online
- Sending anonymous messages to scare or upset someone
- Spreading rumours about someone
- Posting hurtful statements about someone online
- Pretending to be another person by using a fake profile
- Sharing an embarrassing photo of someone without their permission
The list above doesn’t include all examples of cyber bullying. As a good rule, if you’re about to do something online, ask yourself if it will hurt someone else? Or, if you or your child are upset about someone’s behaviour, is it similar to the examples above?
In many cases, online bullying takes place via social media sites, with incidents varying wildly between each one. One study shows that 42% of social media-related bullying arises from Instagram, 37% on Facebook, and 10% on YouTube.
How Can You Prevent Cyber Bullying?
Everyone has a role to play when preventing cyber bullying. How you act may depend on who you are.
Preventing cyber bullying as a parent
Like any other part of your role as a parent, education is your friend when it comes to online bullying. First, you should learn about what this type of behaviour is. Next, you should educate yourself on social media sites and how someone may use them to bully. You should also learn to recognise the signs of a child who is being bullied. Less than half of teenagers will approach someone when online harassment takes place, which means you should remain vigilant and proactive.
As a parent, you need to talk to your children. Promote an honest and open culture in which they can approach you when they feel concerned. Additionally, tell them what cyber bullying is and educate them on remaining safe online. It’s also a good idea to communicate with your child’s school. If you notice an issue, you can bring it to their teachers’ attention.
Another of your more crucial roles as a parent is to encourage an open discussion when it comes to the negative emotions your child may feel following cyber bullying. Around 30% who encounter it will move towards self-harming. When you break down the shame and anxiety that comes with discussing how another child has made your child feel, you could prevent some of the long-lasting emotional harms.
Addressing online harassment as a teacher
As a teacher, you can take a simple approach to tackling these behaviours. Start with telling students that they should apply the “true, kind, and necessary” test before making statements online. According to those who enjoy psychological philosophy, each of those words is one of the three gates of speech. If statements students in your class are making fail to be true, kind, or necessary, they should close a gate to their statement.
Inform them that it’s unwise to discuss another pupil via social media in a negative or demeaning way. You should also alert them to sites where bullying is particularly prevalent. Finally, inform parents about your school’s policy on online behaviour.
Digital tools that prevent online bullying
Although technology is at the root of online harassment, it can act as a useful tool for dealing with it, too. Digital platforms such as Starshell Student from Kudos Knowledge will enhance your efforts as a teacher or parent in stopping cyber bullying. They’ll educate students on what cyber bullying is, which then gives them the confidence to tackle it.
Other advantages to using Starshell Student include:
- Notifications that alert children when one of their posts could involve cyber bullying.
- Automatic filtering of harmful status updates.
- Safety nets that prevent hateful posts, including those that are racist and sexist. Such posts have the potential to harm a child’s future reputation.
- Integration with the school’s social media guidelines.
- Warnings that direct children towards their school’s social media guidelines.
One study published in Canada reveals how undetected cyber bullying can result in poor sleep, bad eating patterns, and reduced academic performance. In more severe cases, it can even lead to turning to alcohol or drugs, self harm, and death or suicide. As such, it’s critical that we take every available step towards preventing it.
The Advantages of Tackling Cyber Bullying
As a form of harassment that takes place online, cyber bullying is easy to ignore. That is, until it’s too late to do so. The advantages of tackling cyber bullying include:
- You’ll maintain your child’s privacy. Less than 60-percent set their profile to private, so it’s wise to help them do so.
- You reduce the risk of psychological harm
- You enhance your child’s confidence
- They’re not at risk of poor grades
- You educate them about the risks of identity theft
- You strengthen their emotional development
- You protect them against inappropriate material
- You prevent them from making online statements they later regret
- You give them the chance to control their online identity
At Kudos Knowledge, we develop digital tools that are not only innovative but can also help transform lives for the better. Starshell Student—our social media and cyber bullying education and protection platform for students—is a clear example of this. Through this platform, students, parents, and teachers are given an effective, digitally-driven method to help educate people, deal with, and spread awareness about cyber bullying. To learn more, we invite you to become a member or contact us if you have any questions.