Bullying is something that I think most parents worry about when it comes to their children. The idea of your child being bullied is hard to think about, and even more so if your child is the one doing the bullying. With children having more and more access to the worldwide web, I think it’s as important as ever to keep our children safe from bullying on the internet. Amy Williams has written us a piece on how to tackle this if it’s happening to you.
Think back to when you were 14 years old. Besides your parents, who was the most important person in your life?
Chances are you probably had a best friend (or several close consorts) that your world revolved around. Late night phone calls, sleepovers, shopping trips, and chatting over questionable school lunches bonded you as both of you navigated the teen years. However, with all the passed notes and sharing of clothes, it wasn’t uncommon to squabble every now and then.
The Importance Of Teen Friendships
In fact, at some point, you almost certainly had a disagreement with a close childhood friend. Back then, you might have went a few days without talking or tried avoiding each other in the hallways. Eventually, however, you would work things out and move on to paramount topics like enhanced techniques to tease your bangs to new heights.
During adolescence friendships suddenly take a vital role in a teen’s life. Peers heavily influence a teen’s choices and judgments- resulting in great pain and suffering when a friendship tears apart. Today, friendships still play an important role in the life of a teen and there are still the occasional spats between BFFs.
The end of a friendship is devastating on it’s own, but things can spiral out of control when ex-friends take to Social Media to hash out their disagreement. Take the case of Emma, a 14 year old girl, whose cyberbully was her former friend. Her upset BFF took their disagreement online and began tormenting and shaming Emma publicly.
Online Aggression In Teens
Cyberbullying uses digital media and technology to bully another individual. Surprisingly, the bully is not always random individuals seeking out ways to hurt others- sometimes it is a child’s closest friend inflicting the pain.
Online aggression is on the rise and over 62% of all children have personally witnessed this problem. These numbers might not sound that impressive at first, but when you consider that around 17 million children are connected with mobile phones you can understand the true impact.
To make matters worse, negative posts often gain likes and feedback from friends, classmates, and strangers. This eventually snowballs and results in the victim feeling isolated and broken. This environment breeds depression, thoughts of suicide, and self harming behaviors.
10 Steps To Knockout Cyberbullying
Countless teens are experiencing cyberbullying similar to what Emma had to endure. Parents may feel helpless in these situations, but there is hope. Here are ten ways to help stomp out cyberbullying:
- Actively stay updated on a teen’s Internet and cell phone use.
- Know his or her online accounts, names, passwords, and profiles
- Get help from teachers and administrators for support at school
- Document evidence of the cyberbullying to take to the police if the situation escalates
- Keep devices and the Internet out of bedrooms
- If a child is receiving bullying messages, open and read them together- be there and offer a shoulder to cry on
- Understand how bullies might use fake personas and profiles to gain access to your child
- Use strong passwords and privacy settings
- Stay strong- be there for your child
- Remember things will get better
Moving Past Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is an unfortunate byproduct of our highly connected life. Millions of children experience the cruel reality of online harassment. Thankfully, our society is recognizing the threat this behavior poses to our youth and is taking measures to raise awareness to stop it from occurring.
Emma didn’t reap the benefits of this grassroots movement, but her story will help countless other teens.
By Amy Williams