Effect of Cyberbullying, How Parents and Schools Can Help

Effect of Cyberbullying, How Parents and Schools Can Help

Living in this Internet era surely has made life easy, better and connected to the world.

The advantages are numerous but we can’t deny the ill-uses of Internet.

Cyber Bullying is one of the misuses. It is concerned with the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.  With new social platforms being used more and more, cyber bullying is becoming a common threat to people. Because cyber bullying is committed through electronic devices and over social media platforms, mean and hurtful messages can be posted and distributed quickly to a wide audience, adding to the victim’s pain. It can be difficult, and in certain cases, impossible to delete cyber bullying messages.

Cyber bullying can appear in many forms:

1. Mean text messages or emails.

2. Rumors sent by email (to the victim or others).

3. Rumors posted on social networking.

4. Rude, critical or condescending comments on a post or status.

5. Posting embarrassing pictures and videos.

6. The creation of “blackmail” files, which may be used against the person at a later date or later in life.

7. The creation of fake online profiles.

Though the victim isn’t hurt physically but the affects of cyber bullying are equally adverse. Cyber bullying can be very damaging to adolescents and teens as it instills them with a threat to communicate and leads to low self-confidence. Cyber bullying is getting common between teens and is turning out to be an easy way to take revenge, reflects as an outcome of jealousy or insecurity. The sad part is that the kids who are involved in this practice are in pain on the both ends. Kids who bully are equally in trouble as those who are being bullied. The feelings of insecurity, jealousy or revenge come when kids are not able to share, communicate or express their thoughts and feeling. They feel unheard, vulnerable and try to seek attention by doing these things. And the elder predators are also targeting the kids as they can easily have their way with kids for the reason that kids are an easy target and it is easy to generate a feeling of fear in them.

Effects of Cyberbullying:

Cyber bullying unquestionably has a negative impact on its victims.  The fact that Internet harassment is meant to psychologically agitate its victims lends it to being harmful in nature. Victims feel a wide range of negative emotions as a result of being cyber bullied.  These include

- Anger

- Sadness

- Feeling hurt

- Embarrassed

- Afraid

- Low self-confidence

- Socially awkward

- Fear of communication

- Those who experience cyber bullying also experience a range of negative behavior that include poor concentration, low school achievement, absenteeism from school.

- Another problem of these negative emotions and behaviors is that the victim is more likely to resolve this strain through some sort of antisocial behavior. In severe cases, the victim may start feeling suicidal or even attempt to commit suicide without even sharing or talking about what has been happening.  

How can parents help?

-- Talks to teens about cyber bullying, explaining that it is wrong and can have serious consequences. Make a rule that teens may not send mean or damaging messages, even if someone else started it, or suggestive pictures or messages or they will lose their cell phone and computer privileges for a time.

-- Encourage teens to tell an adult if cyber bullying is occurring. Tell them if they are the victims they will not be punished, and reassure them that being bullied is not their fault.

-- Teens should keep cyber bullying messages as proof that the cyber bullying is occurring. The teens’ parents may want to talk to the parents of the cyber bully, to the bully’s Internet or cell phone provider, and/or to the police about the messages, especially if they are threatening or sexual in nature.

-- Try blocking the person sending the messages. It may be necessary to get a new phone number or email address and to be more cautious about giving out the new number or address.

-- Teens should never tell their password to anyone except a parent, and should not write it down in a place where it could be found by others. Parents must guide their kids about it.

-- Teens should not share anything through text or instant messaging on their cell phone or the Internet that they would not want to be made public – remind teens that the person they are talking to in messages or online may not be who they think they are, and that things posted electronically may not be secure.

-- Encourage teens never to share personal information online or to meet someone they only know online.

-- And the most important is that parents must talk about cyber bullying to their kids. Make sure they are not being bullied or bullies. In either case, talk the issue out and help your child with it. It is responsibility of parents to check if their child is involved in any such activity. Know what kind of company your kid is. You can get a hint if your kid is being bullied from the early signs such as social awkwardness, drifting away, lesser communication. 

Also read: Internet safety facts parents must know about.

Role of School and Educators to Keep Kids Cyber Safe:

Schools and educators can be very effective brokers in working with the parents to stop and remedy Cyber bullying situations. Especially, schools that have adopted the use of technology can play a significant role, as kids will access Internet in school premises as well. To make sure that kids aren’t bullying or being bullied, it is important that schools inherit them with net ethics. Students must be guided to use Internet safely and they should be given some set of Internet Usage rules that must be obeyed. Another crucial thing that can be done by schools is having digital citizenship for its students from the very beginning, with which you can help students to learn, communicate and collaborate safely over Internet.

Next read: Why is digital citizenship important? Even for the youngest kids.

Some more tips are mentioned below for teachers which if practiced may prevent kids getting involved in cyber bullying.

-- Discuss Cyber Bullying: Give students the opportunity to discuss Cyber bullying. Ask them if they ever felt that they are being bullied. Take them in confidence that if anything happens, you will be there to help them and they must discuss with their teachers, parents or any adult whom they trust. Involve the class in determining that bullying behavior is unacceptable. Provide classroom activities and discussion opportunities related to Cyber bullying and violence, including the harm they cause and strategies to reduce their incidence.

-- Cooperation via collaboration: Teach cooperation by assigning projects that require collaboration. Such cooperation teaches students how to compromise and how to assert without demanding. Take care to vary grouping of participants and to monitor the treatment of and by participants in each group.

-- Take Immediate Action: Take immediate action when Cyber bullying is observed. All teachers and school staff must let children know they care and will not allow anyone to be mistreated. By taking immediate action and dealing directly with the bully, adults support both the victim and the witnesses. Also authorities must council the kid who was bullying.

-- Confront in Private: Confront bullies in private. Challenging bullies in front of their peers may actually enhance their status and lead to further aggression.

-- Involve Parents: Notify parents of both victims and bullies when a confrontation occurs. Listen receptively to parents who report bullying, and investigate reported circumstances so appropriate school action may be taken.

Also check: Fun resources on “Netiquettes” for Kids. A must try!

Parents, educators and school; together they can help kids from getting bullied or being a bully. In either case it is the kid who suffers the most and sometimes we are not even aware of their suffering. A little awareness and alertness can help kids be cyber safe.

What are your views regarding this issue? Share with us in the comment section below. 

About the Author
Author: Priyanka Gupta
Priyanka is a blogger by profession and has an increasing interest to write about the edtech space. While writing she keeps in mind the educators to come up with right resources and ideas which might be relevant for them in relation to effective use of technology in their profession and institutions/classrooms.
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