It is back to school time again! For most this means fun pictures posted on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. It means tweets and status updates about the excitement of making new friends and catching up with old ones between classes. However for many, back to school means a return to being bullied in the classroom and even in the privacy of their own bedroom through social media.
Unfortunately, bullying has been keeping up with technology. It is no longer something isolated to the classroom or the schoolyard. Bullying has taken on a new meaning in the past several years. It is more and more difficult for parents to keep their children safe and insulated from the taunts and threats of their peers. The newest type of bullying takes place through social media and technology of all types.
Kids are being attacked by peers through all forms of media, most noteably Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, text messaging and other messaging apps, Snapchat, Youtube, and more. If you as the parent are unfamiliar with these (and many other) social media platforms, you are doing a huge disservice to yourself and your child! Your children want and need some secrets and a sense of personal (and private) identity. However, that does NOT mean you should completely ignore or be ignorant to their activities.
The following statistics are from a study done by i-Safe, Inc. that gathered information from students for the 2003/04 school year. I would assume that some of these numbers could be even higher now due to increased access to media outlets.
Cyber Bullying Statistics (i-Safe, Inc.)
42% of kids have been bullied while online. 1 in 4 have had it happen more than once.
35% of kids have been threatened online. Nearly 1 in 5 have had it happen more than once.
21% of kids have received mean or threatening e-mail or other messages.
58% of kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than 4 out of 10 say it has happened more than once.
53% of kids admit having said something mean or hurtful to another person online. More than 1 in 3 have done it more than once.
58% have not told their parents or an adult about something mean or hurtful that happened to them online.
What should a parent do? How does a parent know if their child is being cyberbullied? What can a parent do to help support their child if they find out they are being bullied?
It is important for a parent to EDUCATE themselves; know what social media outlets your child uses regularly. Know how it works, why it is popular, know the lingo and common abbreviations used. Parents also need to educate their children about cyberbullying and open the conversation about this behavior.
The parent should ESTABLISH rules for technology usage. They need to establish clear boundaries for children. Phones, tablets, and computers are such an important part of our children's lives these days and parents need to maintain control over such technology.
Parents should EVALUATE their child's use of social media. If your child is too involved with certain platforms, regulate their use and maintain the boundaries and rules that were previously established.
And if the parent learns their child is being cyberbullied or is cyberbullying, the parent should ELIMINATE the social media platforms and address the behavior immediately.
Always support your child if they are being bullied. Seek help for them and go through the proper channels to have the bullying behaviors addressed. Contact the school, parent, law enforcement, and the social media site. Cyberbullying is a serious issue and can have serious consequences.