Cyberbullying, also known as electronic bullying or online social cruelty, is the use of information or electronic communication technologies to bully others. Methods include bullying that takes place:
- through email
- through instant messaging
- in a chat room
- on a website or gaming site
- through digital messages or images sent to a cellular phone
Although sharing certain features in common with traditional bullying, cyber bullying presents new challenges in that it aggressors find it easier to hide their identity and may have greater accessibility to their target due to the 24/7 nature of social media and digital communications.
Both boys and girls cyber bully, although it appears that girls are more likely to engage in cyber bullying and be targeted by cyber bullying than their male counterparts. This is a difference from traditional bullying, where we find boys engage in bullying at a higher frequency than girls.
How can we prevent Cyberbullying?
Communicate with your children about their online experiences.
Parents need to discuss cyber bullying with their children as part of their regular discussions about Internet Safety and appropriate use of technologies. Parents can make it clear that using the Internet or cellular phones to embarrass or hurt others’ feelings is not part of their family values. Discussing the golden rule as it applies to internet and technology use can be very helpful. Parents should discuss bystander behavior as well, encouraging children to speak out against cyber bullying they witness and to report it to the appropriate person. In addition, parents should be mindful about new technologies that are introduced to their children and to set up guidelines for their appropriate use.
Infuse digital citizenship throughout the curriculum and include cyberbullying in your anti-bullying policies and bullying prevention efforts.
“Online netiquette skills are becoming vital as technology is increasingly being incorporated into most career paths. Many schools have “Bring Your Own Device” learning opportunities and encourage teachers to keep blogs where class and homework assignments are posted for students to review. Students are asked to post assignments online. It is critical to spend class time on both the rights and responsibilities of digital citizenship. Providing tips on appropriate posting and sharing, privacy and our digital footprint, media literacy, and online “netiquette.”
Students have a critical role to play in preventing cyber bullying as they are more likely to witness the behavior and have an opportunity to intervene.
- Don’t engage in or support mean material, gossip, or rumors posted online, or talk about it at school.
- Support a classmate being targeted online by posting positive messages!
- If you know the person being targeted, invite him/her to spend time with you.
- Tell an adult at home and at school.
- Use social reporting tools to flag cyberbullying or inappropriate content. If necessary print the evidence to share with an adult.
- Talk to the student who is cyber bullying if it is safe, and make it clear that you think their behavior is wrong.
- Remember that we are not invisible online. Create a positive digital footprint that creates opportunities and enjoy the benefits of social media.