Cyberbullying is when youth use technology, such as computers, cell phones and other electronic devices, to willfully and repeatedly cause someone harm. Cyberbullying can be even more destructive than bullying in that the person using bullying behavior can work to keep their identity hidden, be crueler, reach a limitless audience and try to avoid consequences. Additionally, it is difficult for those who care about the recipient of the cyberbullying to identify and comprehend what is happening, leaving the target possibly even more isolated and subject to being hurt.
Some examples of cyberbullying include:
- A group of friends setting up a fake Facebook account to contact one of their classmates via this account with the intent to get this person to say things they can then share with the rest of the rest of the school to humiliate this classmate
- Someone sending out a text to all of their friends with gossip that could be true, exaggerated or a lie
- Using someone else's user name and password to log-in to their account and send messages from their account
- Starting a rumor about someone and spreading it electronically, causing it to go "viral"
- Texting someone a message threatening to "out" their private information
What are some signs that someone is being cyberbullied?
- Secrecy, uneasiness and hesitancy around technology
- Not wanting to use technology at all
- Not wanting to go to school, skipping school and drop in grades
- Withdrawal from friends, family and activities
Consequences of cyberbullying can include: Anger, frustration, fear, sadness, depression, suicidal ideation, lack of confidence, low self-esteem, family problems, poor school attendance, academic problems, violence and delinquency
What do I do if I'm experiencing cyberbullying?
- Tell a trusted adult: a parent, a caregiver, a teacher, a coach-just keep on telling until you get help
- Save the evidence and document all instances
- Block the messages, don't engage in the cyberbullying
- Report cyberbullying to the appropriate source: cell/internet service providers, law enforcement and/or school officials
What do I do if I know someone is experiencing cyberbullying?
- Help the person get help
- Do not forward or spread the message
- Stand up and speak out against cyberbullying behavior
- Be an in-person friend
What are some things I can do to keep myself safer?
- Protect your passwords, always log out of your accounts and secure your privacy settings
- Be intentional with your posting, texting, emailing, pictures, etc....once it's out there, it can't be taken back
- Never open unidentified messages or "friend" unknown people
What can parents do about cyberbullying?
- Talk to their youth about the dangers of the internet, with use of examples
- Keep computers in public areas of the house
- Stay updated on technology and your child's online activities
- Create opportunities away from the computer and other technology
- If your child is being cyberbullied, talk to them about their safety and give them unconditional support