WHAT IS CYBERBULLYING?
Cyberbullying or cyberharassment, also known as online bullying, is a form of bullying or harassment using electronic means. It has become increasingly common, especially among teenagers, as the digital sphere has expanded, and technology has advanced, as per Wikipedia.
Simply put, cyberbullying is when a child or teen becomes a target of actions by others – using computers, cell phones, or other devices – that are intended to embarrass, humiliate, torment, threaten or harass. It can start as early as age eight or nine, but the majority of cyberbullying takes place in the teenage years, up to age 17.
Children call it gossip, drama, or trolling. Whatever name it goes by cyberbullying is serious.
The range of cyberbullying tactics is wide and is continually changing as new technology emerges and different social networking sites pop up.
Here are some of the common ways that cyberbullying is taking place among young people across Canada:
Sending mean or threatening messages by email, text, or through comments on a social networking page.
Spreading embarrassing rumors, secrets, or gossip about another person.
Taking an embarrassing picture or video of someone with a digital camera and sending it to others or posting it online without their knowledge or permission.
Posting online stories, pictures, jokes, or cartoons that are intended to embarrass or humiliate.
Hacking someone's email account and sending hurtful content to others while pretending to be them.
Using someone else's password to get into their social networking account and post material as them that would be embarrassing or offensive.
Tricking someone to open up and share personal information and then sharing that information widely with others.
Creating online polls and rating people in negative, meaningful ways.
In online gaming, repeatedly harming a player's character, ganging up on a player, or using personal information to make direct threats.
Why parents should be concerned about it?
Unlike face-to-face bullying, cyberbullying can be relentless. It can reach a victim anywhere at anytime: alone in their bedroom, walking home from school, or even on a family vacation. That’s what children are facing these days. The bullying doesn’t stop when they walk out of their school building.
Almost 1 in 10 Canadian online teens (8 %) say they have been victims of online bullying on social networking sites.
More than one-third (35 %) of Canadian teens with a profile on a social networking site have seen mean or inappropriate comments about someone they know. 14 % say they have seen mean or inappropriate comments about themselves on social networks.
18 % of Canadian parents say they have a child who has experienced cyberbullying. 31 % say they know a child in their community who has experienced cyberbullying.
90 % of Canadians would support a law that would make it illegal to use any electronic means to coerce, intimidate, harass or cause other substantial emotional distress.
SIGNS OF CYBERBULLYING
Signs your child may be involved in cyberbullying
If your child is involved in cyberbullying, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. It may be child is caught up in behavior and encouraged by peers around them.
Here are some signs your child may be involved in cyberbullying:
Your child has a large number of social networking accounts on multiple sites, which may be a sign they're using accounts to harass others.
You overhear insults, snarky remarks, or sarcastic laughter while your child is online or texting.
Your child becomes secretive about their online activity: they quickly change the screen or hide their mobile device if you interrupt them and may become annoyed when you walk in on them.
They spend long hours online, almost obsessively, perhaps finding times to be online when the rest of the family is asleep.
Your child is spending time with friends who behave in ways that are mean or uncaring. Often, children engage in cyberbullying to fit in with a new peer group.
They don't seem to care if their words or actions hurt others.
Signs that your child may be experiencing cyberbullying
Anger, depression, or frustration after using any devices.
Stops using devices unexpectedly.
Stops accessing social media, apps, or games.
Uneasy about going to school.
Abnormally withdrawn from usual friends and family members.
Your child becomes more secretive about their online activities and avoids conversations that have to do with their computer or mobile device.
They begin falling behind in schoolwork or their grades go down.
Your child appears sad, frustrated, impatient, or angry much more than usual.
They are having trouble sleeping or show less interest in eating.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Talk with your child about cyberbullying.
Let them know, you understand and listen, and open up the lines of communication.
Learn about what your child does online.
Learn what sites your child uses.
Check Age requirement of the site or game your child is playing.
Talk with them about what they do online, and who they do it with.
You should try it yourself.
You can use this opportunity to learn from your children about the website and how it works.
Know the technology – and keep up with it.
Learn about the devices your child is using and how they are using them from them.
Set ground rules for your child's online activity.
· Age Requirements
Discuss with your child and allow them to go to the websites or play games which are for the age group.
Insist your child uses privacy settings of the browser, website, and devices.
Educate your children about passwords and how important they are.
Encourage them to create different passwords for different sites.
Help them create long but easy to remember passwords.
Explain to them not to share their passwords with friends.
Make sure they use a password to lock their devices.
· Access control:
Monitor and control screen time with access control available on your home router and computers and devices.
Train your child to turn off the geolocation features on mobile or their device so that pictures were taken, or any other document does not provide their locational details.
Start Early and Keep Talking
Respect Age Ratings
Teach Passwords and Privacy
Use Access Controls
Protect Identity and Location
Explain the consequences
Know the Signs of Cyberbullying
Monitor and Communicate
Experts at techiefriends.com can help and walk you through or do it for you, any of the above-mentioned settings like privacy settings, access control, or any other related issues.
Source: Public Safety Canada and Iamcybersafe.org