Considering that 80 percent of kids have access to social media in the palm of their hands, this number shouldn’t be that surprising. In fact, cyberbullying is so common and out of control that most students either expect it will happen to them at some point, or ignore it when they see it happening to others. With barely any consequences for offensive online behavior, it makes it hard to crack down on the act.
A recent BBC article highlights the failure to manage cyberbullies on social media and the mental health risks that come with cyberbullying, stating that “ … almost half of the 11 to 25-year-olds questioned for … had experienced threatening or nasty social media messages, emails or texts.”
The report goes on to cite that 2/3 of students reported they wouldn’t tell their parents if they experienced something upsetting online. It also reports that more than 80 percent surveyed want social media companies to do more to tackle the problem.
The ins and outs of cyberbullies
Cyberbullies attack their victims typically in one of two ways: via direct attack or intimidation through messages, images, photos or videos sent directly to a child; or by proxy, using groups of friends, with or without their knowledge or consent, to help target their victim.
Cyberbullies use social networking sites to create stress and feelings of helplessness in a victim’s life. They achieve this by posting abusive or embarrassing messages on a victim’s profile wall, attaching rude comments to videos or photos the victim has uploaded, designing a site for the purpose of making fun of someone, or hacking into a victim’s personal accounts and harassing them. Cyberbullies may feel braver because they can’t be seen … but cyberbullying can often be traced thanks to everything having a digital footprint.
How you can protect your kids from cyberbullying
At Digital Citizen Academy, we encourage parents to get involved immediately if they think their child is being bullied.
To protect your children from cyberbullying:
- Become familiar with how various social networking websites work
- Ask your child to show you their profile pages and review all comments
- Encourage your child to come to you for anything inappropriate or upsetting online
- Discuss the importance of not responding to any threats or comments online with your child
- Save and print all bullying messages for use in proving cyberbullying has taken place
- Support tough consequences for those who cyberbully and break the rules set in place by social media companies
- Demand social networks publicly report cyberbully data
For even more ways to find out if your child is being cyberbullied and how to prevent it, sign up now for our Home Program and start ensuring your child is safe online.