It seems like technology becomes more and more prevalent each day and, for most people, it’s already deeply entrenched in our daily lives and activities. This is especially true for pre-teens and teens, many of whom have matured in an age of smartphones and constant, readily available high-speed internet access.
While this readily available technology does have some benefits for children, including easy access to educational information, negative parts of child’s life can also be taken to the internet. One example is cyber bullying – an internet based version of what you probably saw on the playground or in the schoolyard as a kid.
The concept of cyber bullying might be new to you, but there are some things you can do to help keep your kids avoid it. There are also ways you can stop cyber bullying if it is already occurring, whether your child is the victim or the one doing the bullying.
What Is Cyber Bullying?
Cyber bullying is essentially the same thing as bullying in the physical world, except instead of name-calling or making mean jokes in-person, kids are utilizing the internet. Cyber bullying is particularly common on social media platforms, like Facebook, where groups of children can comment and see comments. Bullying occurs through other forms of technology as well, like email and even mean-spirited blogs.
In some cases, cyber bullying is even directed solely at one child. For example, a bully could send a mean or hurtful text message or email.
Similar to bullying in real life, cyber bullying can become very serious, especially when there is a threat of physical violence. Cyber bullying can also affect a child’s self-esteem and make him or her feel isolated from their peers.
Is Cyber Bullying Common?
Many parents aren’t familiar with the idea of cyber bullying, but according to a 2006 poll conducted by the national organization Fight Crime, one in three teens and one in six pre-teens have been the victims of cyber bullying. As more children gain increasing access to technology, these statistics may be pushed even higher.
Signs of Cyber Bullying
If your child is the victim of cyber bullying, there may be some signs that can help you spot it before it becomes a serious issue. The most obvious sign of cyber bullying is emotional distress or feelings of discomfort after using technology.
Due to the increase in cyber bullying, some kids even choose to avoid using technology they once enjoyed altogether. Others may withdraw from friends or avoid group activities like parties or after-school functions.
If you believe your child is bullying a classmate via technology, talking to your child right away is the first step. Remind your child that the technology they’re using is a privilege, not a right; if they use it to harm others, they will no longer have access.
If your child has been bullying other children, you may want to monitor their use of social sites and technology more closely. You may need to speak with your child’s school counselor or principal if the situation has been going on for a long time.
Cyber bullying is a serious problem and it’s one issue that many children face on a daily basis. While you can’t control everything that happens in your child’s life, even when it comes to technology, it’s important that you do what you can to protect them or correct negative behavior.
Cyber bullying can greatly affect children that are the victims and bullying can have long term consequences for the abuser as well.
Virginia Cunningham is a freelance writer in California whose writing covers a variety of industries, including health, beauty, gaming and technology. As a mother herself, she always does what she can to ensure the safety