THE ONLINE CORNER is my monthly article that is featured in Snapd Dufferin/Caledon.
As a mother of two teenagers and one tween, cyberbullying is an important topic in my household. I want to give my children some trust and independence when it comes to their devices and social media, however the fear of cyberbullying makes it important to establish boundaries and inspect and monitor their behaviour online.
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying or cyberharassment is a form of bullying or harassment using electronic means.
More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyberthreats online, and over 25% of teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or on the Internet.
Cyberbullying can be any messaging via social media or electronic messaging that is used to upset, threaten or embarrass another person. This may include insults, put downs, spreading rumours, sharing private information, or sharing videos or photos that may be harmful.
Cyberbullying is hurtful, and it needs to stop. So how do we protect our children?
The number one solution to prevent and handle cyberbullying is communication. Talk to your Children. Encourage an open dialogue about bullying, respect, and empathy. We can help as parents and caregivers to educate our children on what is acceptable behaviour online, and to know what they should not be accepting towards them or participating in themselves.
If your child is the victim of cyberbullying or any kind of bullying here are some things you can do to help him or her: (source: Ontario.ca “Bullying We Can All Help”)
- Listen to your child and assure him that he has a right to be safe.
- Be clear on the facts. Make notes about what happened and when it happened.
- Help your child see that there is a difference between “ratting”, “tattling” or “telling” and reporting. It takes courage to report. Reporting is done not to cause trouble for another student, but to protect all students.
Cyberbullying Among Adults
More than 50% of the people cyberbullied online are in fact over 18 years of age. This is concerning to know that some adults find it perfectly acceptable to show behaviour online that they would never display in real life. Cyberbullying on social media, text messages and emails should be no more acceptable if performed by adults than if they are teenagers. Please let’s have some respect for each other and set a good example for our youth.
Recently I have noticed especially in political discussions online, and especially on Facebook there is a large number of adults who seem to think it is okay to post vulgar, nasty, personally threatening and abusive comments about a particular candidate or party leader. This is very un-Canadian of us. Especially given the fact that we as Canadians are truly blessed to have the right to vote in an openly democratic society.
Let’s show our respect for each other in all situations online and offline and be a positive influence on our children.