Bullies and mean girls have been around forever, but technology now gives them a whole new platform for their actions. It's not always easy to know how and when to step in as a parent.
For starters, most kids use technology differently than we do. They're playing games online and sending texts on their phones at an early age, How does cyberbullying start most teens have devices that keep them constantly connected to the Internet.
Many are logged on to Facebook or Tumblr and chatting or texting all day. Even sending email or leaving a voicemail can seem old-school to them. Their knowledge of the digital world can be intimidating to parents. But staying involved in kids' cyber world, just as in their real world, can help parents protect from its dangers. Cyberbullying is the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person. By definition, it occurs among young people.
When an adult is involved, it may meet the definition of cyber-harassment or cyberstalkinga crime that can have legal consequences and involve jail time. Sometimes cyberbullying can be easy to spot — for example, if your child shows you a text, tweet, or response to a status update on Facebook that is harsh, mean, or cruel. Other acts are less obvious, like impersonating a victim online or posting personal information, photos, or videos designed to hurt or embarrass another person.
Some kids report that a fake account, webpage, or online persona has been created with the sole intention to harass and bully. Cyberbullying also can happen accidentally. The impersonal nature of text messages, IMs, and emails make it very hard to detect the sender's tone — one person's joke could be another's hurtful insult. Nevertheless, a repeated pattern of emails, texts, and online posts is rarely accidental.
Because many kids are reluctant to report How does cyberbullying start bullied, even to their parents, it's impossible to know just how many are affected.
No longer limited schoolyards or street corners, modern-day bullying can happen at home as well as at school — essentially 24 hours a day. Picked-on kids can feel like they're getting blasted nonstop and that there is no escape.
As long as kids have access to a phone, computer, or other device including tabletsthey are at risk. Severe, long-term, or frequent cyberbullying can leave both victims and bullies at greater risk for anxiety, depression, and other stress-related disorders. In some rare but highly publicized cases, some kids have turned to suicide. Experts say that kids who are bullied — and the bullies themselves — are at a higher risk for suicidal thoughts, attempts, and completed suicides.
The punishment for cyberbullies can include being suspended from school or kicked off of sports teams. Certain types of cyberbullying can be considered crimes. If you discover that your child is being cyberbullied, offer comfort and support.
Praise your child for doing the right thing by talking to you about it. Remind your child that he or she isn't alone — a lot of people get bullied at some point.