October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and with that we would like to focus our article this month on cyberbullying.
Social media can be an amazing tool when it is used how it was intended to be used. Unfortunately it can also be used in hurtful, mean ways. However, you can help your children break this pattern and be part of the solution. Encourage them to be a positive role model for their friends and peers.
Cyberbullying is defined as repeated, extreme form of bullying among youth, via technology. It is behaviour that is abusive and targeted, deliberate, repeated and intended to damage and harm another person. Bullies try to seek power over another person. A onetime mean or rude comment is not considered cyberbullying.
Bullies can look like any other child, or adult no matter what their size, gender, ethnicity or race. Bullies try to seek power over another person and with cyberbullying it is done online, typically through social media platforms, text messages, group chats or YouTube videos. Bullies tend to do it online because of the anonymous nature of the internet; with so many of the apps being anonymous, they think they won’t be caught. Bullies also know that victims rarely tell someone that they are being bullied so we encourage you to talk to your children so that they know they can come to you if they see anything online that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable or is threatening to them or someone they know – even if they are on sites or platforms without your knowledge. The message we tell the kids is if they see anything that makes them uncomfortable or scared or threatening to tell a trusted adult immediately. We encourage them not to engage the bully or delete the comment, but to show it to their trusted adult and take a screen shot. Let your children know that what the bully is saying is not their fault and that they are not alone. No matter what form of bullying you are witnessing, it is unacceptable.
If your child is being bullied, we encourage you to not engage but to help your child ‘walk away’ on social media or text message. That means don’t respond to a comment or post. We tell the kids not to take matters into their own hands to protect a friend, and if they haven’t told the bully to stop, to do it now. Sometimes the bully will continue simply because no one has told them to stop, and again we cannot stress enough if your child is threatened contact the police immediately.
Ways you can help your child if they are being bullied:
- Block the bully.
- Screen shot all engagements with the bully so you have it documented should things go further.
- Keep your kids accounts as private as possible, make sure they know who they are connecting with.
- Encourage your children to never send pictures of themselves to anyone online, in the wrong hands any photo can be used in a way you never intended.
- Talk to your children about what personal information is and that it is not to be shared on any social networking site (ie. parents names, school info, friends names etc).
- Encourage your children to never share their passwords with anyone other than you.
- Search your child’s name on all major search engines, know what is out there about them.
- Speak to your children about bullying and help them understand what it is to be an active bystander VS passive bystander and the difference between tattling and telling.
If your child see someone else being bullied, encourage them to step in and tell a trusted adult. Help your child be a part of the solution by refusing to pass cyberbullying messages, posts or photos along, and not to comment, share, or like posts that are bullying in nature. If they see someone being bullied, encourage them to be brave and stand up for them. Help them be part of the solution, not the problem.
About Socially Safe
Stacy Maynard & Kerry Hills are moms with successful social media businesses. We have a passion for helping children understand how to use social media safely. We have joined together to implement into classrooms and the community our Socially Safe, Socially Fun, Social Media programs. We are Moms of kids between the ages of 8 to 15, so we understand the need to help our kids stay safe and create a positive digital footprint. Social Media is not going away and we are passionate about teaching our kids how to use it, have fun and stay Socially Safe.