Posts Tagged ‘computer’
Mar 27th, 2012 | by
Bullies and mean girls have been on playgrounds and schools forever, but the Internet and cell phones have opened up a whole new world. Kids use technology different than their parents. Many spend a lot of time on social networking sites like Facebook and send hundreds of text messages and instant messages (IMs) to their friends. Their knowledge of technology can be intimidating, but they still need parental supervision.
What Is It?
Cyberbullying is the use of technology – e-mail, text messages and social media sites – to harass, threaten, embarrass or target another person. In a 2006 poll from the national organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids found that 1 in 3 teens and 1 in 6 preteens have been the victims of cyberbullying. Severe cyberbullying can leave victims at greater risk for anxiety, depression and other stress-related disorders. Some kids have even turned to suicide.
Know the Signs
Kids who are cyberbullied are often reluctant to tell a teacher or parent because they feel ashamed or are afraid their computer and cell phone privileges may be taken away. The signs that a child is being cyberbullied vary, but a few things to look for are:
- Emotional distress during or after using the Internet
- Withdrawal from friends and activities
- Avoidance of school or group gatherings
- Slipping grades and “acting out” in anger at home
- Changes in mood, behavior, sleep or appetite
- Wanting to stop using the computer or cell phone
- Appearing nervous or jumpy when getting an instant message, text message or e-mail
- Avoiding discussions about computer or cell phone activities
What You Should Do
Here are some suggestions on what to do if online bullying has become part of your child’s life.
- Talk to your child. Listen to how they feel about being bullied and talk about ways you can approach the situation.
- Know your kids’ online world. Check their postings and the websites they visit. Be aware of how they spend their time online. Talk to them about the importance of privacy and why it’s a bad idea to share personal information online, even with friends.
- Limit access. Keep the computer in a public place in the house and limit the use of cell phones and games.
Block the bully. Most devices have settings that allow you to electronically block e-mails, instant messages (IMs), or text messages from specific people.
- Get involved. Talk to your child’s school counselor, principal or teacher about what is going on. However, before you do that, tell your child what your plan is. He or she may think you are “tattling” and prefer the situation be handled at home.
- Keep record. Threatening messages, pictures and texts can be used as evidence with the bully’s parents, school, employer or even the police.
Cyberbulling should be taken seriously. Talk to your kids about respecting others even through technology. It’s a lot easier to send a hateful text message than to say it to someone’s face.