When most of today’s parents were growing up, bullying was largely limited to in-person interactions. For that reason, it can be difficult to intuitively and fully understand what our children are facing as they navigate the digital landscape.
In essence, cyberbullying comprises any digital communication, typically from one minor to another minor, with the purpose of frightening, threatening, embarrassing, or harassing a person. The most common form of cyberbullying is sharing a private text message, e-mail, or instant message (IM) with someone else or through a public posting. Cyberbullies’ tools are computers and smartphones and they plague victims via text, e-mail, IM, chat rooms, social media, and blogs.
Examples of cyberbullying behaviors include:
• Using websites to rank or rate peers according to criteria such as looks and popularity
• Publicly blocking someone’s participation in an online group
• Tricking someone into sharing embarrassing information with the purpose of sharing it digitally with others
• Creating a website with the purpose of harassing someone
• Creating a fake social media account to pose as another person and post untrue things about that person
• Sending threatening or mean e-mails, text messages, and IMs in chat rooms
• Posting embarrassing pictures of someone on a social media website
The effects of cyberbullying can be far more devastating for victims than traditional bullying because:
• Cyberbullies often remain anonymous, making victims unsure of how to protect themselves and whom to trust
• Victims often receive bullying messages via their home computer, taking away their feeling of safety within their own home
• Victims may be affected both at school and online, taking away two primary locations where teens socialize and interact
• Cyberbullies can reach a large number of people easily and instantly, making it possible for the entire world to see the behaviors and shared information about the victim
• Because cyberbullies don’t face their victims, the bullying behaviors are often more extreme than traditional bullying
• Cyberbullies can attack their victims frequently on multiple technology platforms
Many states have laws regarding cyberbullying, but current laws vary by state. To see where your state stands regarding cyberbullying legislation, visit Cyberbullying.us/Bullying_
About the Author:
Amy Lupold Bair is the author of Raising Digital Families For Dummies®. She is the founder of Resourceful Mommy Media, inventor of the Twitter Party, and developer of the Global Influence Network for social media-savvy bloggers like herself. Amy shares the wisdom of a mom and the feedback of a thoughtful consumer on her blog, ResourcefulMommy.com.