Cyberbullying is a major problem on social networks, whether it’s a school-aged kid getting harassed by the cool kids clique, or a workplace bully bringing his issues out of the workplace and onto social media sites. More than 30 percent of students have been threatened online in some way or another, reports Bullying Statistics.
Ineffective Response Methods
Cyberbullying is a high-profile concern for many social networks, so in many cases, a social network may ban a bully, or otherwise try to get them off of the network. TechRadar reports this is not incredibly effective, since it motivates the bully to step up their efforts, create multiple accounts, and can cause escalation of the bullying. It’s a tricky line to walk, between protecting users and managing cyberbully problems. This is particularly true with sites such as Facebook, where it’s easy for the bully’s friends to jump on the bandwagon with the teasing and harassing of students.
Don’t Feed the Trolls
Some bullies simply want the attention it brings, even if it’s all negative attention. When you refuse to interact or engage with these types of bullies, their motivation for causing problems decreases significantly. They will find a target they can get a reaction out of, instead of making futile efforts against a stoic individual. If you do need to react, do it in such a way they cannot observe, such as on a specialized Facebook list that excludes their user account.
Cyberbullies don’t know what to do when the bullying target stands up for themselves online. Instead of passively sitting there and assuming someone else will eventually take care of the problem, call the bully out on their behavior. Tell them it’s not acceptable and why, and explain to them the effect it’s going to have on their immediate life. When you get your friends behind you to concretely say this action is not condoned, it may be enough to make the bully back off. For example, Pastor Ed Young advocates for bully confrontation instead of sitting on the sidelines, making the social networks and the world at large a much better place.
Kare 11 reports on a high school football player who used social networks to mitigate the damage bullies were doing to his classmates. He is the popular jock, but he sees less popular kids and those not in the “in” crowd getting harassed time and time again by bullies. Instead of sitting there passively and waiting for the problem to pass, he created a Twitter account and fills it with positive messages about everyone who is getting harassed online. He isn’t fighting fire with fire or negativity, he’s simply pointing out the good in people, and hoping his influence will cause his classmates to come away from cyberbullying by realizing their victims are people too. Cyberbullying will continue to be a major issue as social networks are a part of day-to-day life, but these methods help to decrease the number of bullies out there.
It’s true. Bullying is not just for schoolyards anymore, and cyberbullies can have a heyday with your child’s online reputation, personal information and safety. Cyberbullies hack into accounts, compromise privacy and hijack a person’s identity, creating a stream of wicked words, photos and other content that can remain forever linked to the victim. And that content can travel fast. A Pew study noted the typical teen has 300 Facebook friends, which means a foul post could potentially reach 90,000 sets of eyes in milliseconds if every friend were to repost it. The following strategies can help protect your family’s account, preserve online reputations and fight back if the worst case scenario does indeed occur.
Protection & Prevention
Start with a passwords overhaul. Help your child create a different password for each website or platform. Strong passwords include a mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters and numbers. Keep track of your child’s lineup of passwords with a password management tool, such as LastPass, that stores passwords for user access. LastPass works on most operating systems through a Web browser. It’s an ideal choice for mobile devices and desktop computers.
Logging off is another simple, vital protection maneuver. Encourage your children to make it a habit to always log out of Facebook, Twitter and mobile devices when they’re not using them. Mobile devices typically have a lock-out option that automatically locks out users after a period of inactivity; set up your child’s device to require a password to log back in. Review security settings together as a family to ensure all devices are set for maximum security.
If a cyberbully has already invaded your child’s social networking or email accounts and hijacked his or her identity, report the breach to the site’s administrators. Next, log into the hacked account and change the password. If you and you child can regain access, check the account’s settings and send out a message that warms friends and family about how the account’s been hacked. If you can’t gain access, you may have to shut down the account through the site’s admin.
Cleaning up the aftermath of cyberbullying can’t wait or be taken lightly. Online reputation management services can come to the rescue. The Web-based service Reputation.com lets you keep an eye on your child’s online persona and privacy. It assists with search result control — sinking bad-mouthing to the bottom and positive information to the top of online results pages. If bullying has been intensely nasty or seriously threatening, don’t hesitate to report the incident to the police or your child’s school to ensure the incident goes on record.
The cyberbullying epidemic of today has caused some extreme reactions, like the suicide of 12-year-old Gabrielle Molina. Three mothers, sick of these pointless tragedies, have started Advocates Against Cyberbullying (AAC) to help school districts and parents prevent cyberbullying. Part of fighting the battle against bullying is awareness of parents, school faculty and children. Know the signs and teach your teen the dangers and how to deal with online harassment.
Nobullying.com provides these sobering cyberbullying statistics:
- According to i-Safe Foundation, one in three teens have experienced cyber bullying threats online and over 25 percent of teens have suffered repeated cyber bullying.
- Half of teens who use the Internet, social media or cell phones have experienced cyber bullying.
- According to the Pew Internet Research Center, 55 percent of teenagers witness bullying on social media, while 95 percent of teenagers who have witnessed this bullying have seen other ignoring this behavior.
To protect you child from cyberbullying requires walking a fine line; you don’t want to be the overprotective parent, yet knowing the risks of cyberbullying, you can’t just sit idly by either.
Luckily you can be proactive behind the scenes to help keep your child safe.
My Mobile Watchdog leads the way in parental controls applications. With it you can monitor text messages and pictures (to prevent or stop sexting, yet another problem), put time limits on when and how the phone and its applications can be used, block web sites, applications (including the phone’s built in camera), and specific telephone numbers, and track your child’s location with GPS services. You will receive a daily report of your child’s activity and instant text messages of violations.
You can also download free apps from companies such as Life360, Securafone, and SMS Tracker to track your child’s whereabouts.
Technology on New Cell Phones Helps Parents
The latest technology on new cell phones also helps you keep your child safe. Most cell phones have GPS and all of the major wireless service providers such as AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint offer “Family Locator” packages giving you the ability to track any cell phone on the wireless plan. Some cell phone providers offer parental controls as well. AT&T, for example, offers Smart Controls to limit cell phone use to certain times of the day, and Smart Limits to block up to thirty telephone numbers.
Even with all of the technological help available, nothing beats talking to your child. Let your child know that having a cell phone is partly about safety; your child being able to contact you quickly in an emergency, and you being able to find your child at all times. Make it clear that your interest is in safety rather than snooping. Set limits or install parental controls apps at the beginning and make them a part of owning the phone. It’s easier to start with these in place than to add them later.
Parents: How are you schooling your kids on use of mobile devices and Internet instruction? If you’re not, then maybe it’s time to start.
The rapid rise in image-sharing and video-sharing mobile apps like Instagram and Vine among pre-teens and teens is causing parents more concern on how our kids are interacting over the Internet. The ease of snapping pics, taking incriminating videos and spreading them to friend and enemies can have far-reaching consequences. When those actions cause unease and mistrust among kids, that can often lead to cyberbullying.
Photo of a teen on the phone by GoodNCrazy via Flickr
Cyberbullying is the umbrella term given to activities uses by pre-teens and teens to threaten, harass or humiliate others by using smartphones connected to the Internet, or other digital technologies involving the Internet. Legally, when minors are involved, it’s generally called cyberbullying. But at a certain age threshold, this type of activity becomes criminal and is labeled cyber-harassment.
For instance, the mobile photo sharing site Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) is becoming more of the starting social media online place to be for pre-teens and teens. It used to be Facebook, but the teens and pre-teens caught on that most of their parents were already on there, so it became less of a cool place to see friends funny stuff.
Like Facebook, Instagram is not supposed to allow anyone under 13 years old using its service. However, most parents don’t know that, and it’s said that Instagram isn’t enforcing it so well. As a result, photos and texts that stretch the boundaries of civility are becoming the norm.
How does it Happen?
The rise of mobile phone use in the U.S. is seen as one of the key proponents of the rise in cyberbullying. Kids can easily distribute pictures that are kept on cloud storage services and send to a wide amount of people, with only minimal guidance and fear of consequence. What starts as a joke photo about someone passed around to friends, can suddenly turn up on Tumblr sites and other social networks with awful circumstances. In a Pew Internet study of teens on the Internet in 2011, findings included:
- 18 percent of surveyed 12-17 year old teens say that they have been mistreated on a social network
- 9 percent of the teens had been bullied by text messages
- 8 percent of those polled had been bullied online
Kids usually can tell when they are being cyberbullied and it’s a tough situation for some of these kids to either face up the the cyberbullies or seek out help from school officials or parents to help them deal with the situation. But lewd pictures, rude language and other effects of today’s digital communications can have a pulverizing effect on young victims.
What can Parents Do?
More parents are often handing down their older mobile phones to their kids with little instruction. Kids being kids, they talk to their friends (or mimic their parents) and learn what’s fun to do on the Internet. A pre-teen mobile phone user is often just playing games at first, but soon experimenting with tools and apps on the Internet.
The first thing a parent should do is teach online insights to their kids. Then as the child becomes alert to its uses, the parent should monitor the behavior. And then, if any cyberbullying comes into play, parents should be supportive, rather than overreactive. Be helpful to your child who may be experiencing emotional pain as a result of cyberbullies. Speak to school officials as needed and offer guidance and assistance.
Today’s new bully is the cyber bully. These bullies use websites, on line games, IM’s and cell phones as a way of bullying their victims. They are able to degrade humiliate and embarrass their victims from a safe distance without the fear of retaliation. Often cyber bullying exceeds the verbal bullying that occurs on the playground because of the fact that the bully is not afraid of being seen or overheard. Like all bullying cyber bulling should not be ignored and has to be taken seriously. Read more
Today’s new technologies have brought about a new kind of bully. The cyber bully. The cyber bully is able to target his victim through a variety of different mediums including cell phones and computers, which not only gives them better access to their victim but also gives them a wider audience. The cyber bully is also granted the addition of choosing as to whether or not they want remain anonymous. Read more