There is never a time too early in the life of a child to start thinking about Internet security. Children of younger and younger ages are starting to get a glimpse into the world of the Internet, and many are potentially at risk if they are not informed of what they should and should not do.
When it comes to laws regarding Internet security and bullying, there is still a lot of work to be done. Parents are urged to educate their children about Internet security, but there is still a need for real objective policy.
One institution that fights Internet bullying is the Family Online Safety Institute, an international non-profit organization that works towards a safer Internet environment. The CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute, Stephen Balkam, recently wrote an article in The Guarding expressing the need for new policy:
To many, bullying is still considered a “soft” form of abuse because there are no visible injuries. After all, only our feelings are hurt.
There have been extensive efforts in the 21st century to limit bullying, particularly in schools. Parents now understand how detrimental bullying can be for young children and are trying to put an end to it.
Unfortunately, the emergence of the Internet and social media makes this task quite difficult. The anonymity and speed of the Internet makes bullying too convenient. Parents have to constantly be on the lookout as to what their children are doing online and practice mobile and Internet child safety. Simple conversations can quickly turn into inappropriate behavior that can have long-lasting effects on a child's mental health.
The threat of cyberbullying isn't limited to any one group of kids. Students in the chess club are just as likely to be a victim of cyberbullying as students on the football team. If you don't believe that, then take a look at the story below.
KTTC News reported a case of cyberbullying at a local high school in Minnesota. In this case, members of the football team were caught engaging in cyberbullying. Here are some points from the case:
Football coaches at Southwest High School heard about instances of cyberbullying
Several players who engaged in cyberbullying were benched for a must-win game
The principal of the high school said cyberbullying can be more damaging than traditional bullying
No parent wants to imagine their child as a bully but the sad fact is that it happens sometimes. When you first find out it’s your tween doing the bullying, it can be a bit devastating. Upon learning something like this, parents must take a few minutes to gather their thoughts and create a plan of action to help the offender see the error of their ways.
It’s important to realize that being a bully doesn’t make your child a bad person or you a bad parent. However, cyberbullying is serious and something that you must deal with immediately. Don’t ignore the problem and hope it will go away on its own because things normally get worse without intervention.
Talk to your child about the situation but be calm when you do and don't let your emotions get the better of you. It's important to focus all of your attention on your child, not on your own anger or disappointment. It's imperative to to learn what is going on in youd kid's mind and determine what is motivating them to be a bully. Understanding why it’s happening will help you find ways to deal with the problem.
What to Do When Your Tween Is a Cyberbully
Cyberbullying is more than just the latest negative trend to sweep through our communities. It has not only caught on like wildfire, but it seems to be here to stay. Current statistics state that approximately 43% of kids report being bullied online at some point in their adolescence, 1 in 4 report it occurring more than once. Studies also say that 68% of teens agree that it is has become a serious problem.
So, what is cyberbullying? Cyberbullying has been defined as 'bullying that takes place using electronic technology.' But what does this actually entail? Cyberbullying can come in many different forms and use many different methods. Cyberbullying occurs through the use of a cell phone, computer, or tablet. Methods can vary from a cyberbully using social media sites (such as Facebook or Twitter), text messages (whether group or individual), chat programs, or websites.
The internet never sleeps, which means cyberbullying can occur 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It can reach a child during school breaks, at night, or even when they are alone. As with all things on the internet, it can spread quickly and can be extremely complicated to track down the original offender. Deleting the offensive materials can also prove to be especially difficult once they have been posted.
As a parent, cyberbullying can be a daunting issue, especially if you're not tech-savvy. How do you, as a parent, go about handling such a problem? Here are some tips to help you wade through the topic at hand.
Make your child feel safe and secure. Sure, this sounds easy enough but it is the first step to getting the situation under control. Your child needs to know that you fully support them and are dedicated to the same end result - getting the bullying to stop.
The Huffington Post reported on a recent study on cyberbullying that was conducted by the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. One of the conclusions of the study was that regular family dinners, where children can communicate with their parents, is a key to raising awareness of instances of cyberbullying. By being able to be open about how they are being cyberbullied, children can help their parents take action to shield them from the harmful consequences.
The study was based on survey data that was garnered from 18,000 students in 49 schools in Wisconsin. It found that one in five of the respondents had been cyberbullied at least once during the past year.
Family dinners were singled out in the report because they are the most common occasion when children and parents have face to face communication with one another. But the communication can happen in other situations, such as car trips.
Cyberbullying has become a major problem in this world. Over the past decade, this type of bullying has claimed the lives of many children and adolescents across the globe. It is estimated that half of adolescents have been the victims of cyberbullying. An astonishing one in three children and teens have been victims of online cyberthreats.
The statistics are startling, but not all hope is lost. Because cyberbullying has become such a damaging and deadly issue, lawmakers have created cyberbullying laws to help protect victims from online bullies and to bring these bullies to justice.
There are several states, countries, and territories across the globe that have implemented strong and seemingly effective cyberbullying laws. Although some locations are prepared to crack down on cyberharassment, others are still catching up with the times. View our list displaying countries and states with strong, average, and loose cyberbullying laws.
The strongest cyberbullying laws in the world:
Canada- Under the Education Act, individuals who engage in cyberbullying face suspension from school. Repeat bullies may also face expulsion and possible jail time.
Get the latest and greatest on the top digital parenting news and stories of the week!
This week: cyberbullying escalates during the transition from elementary to middle school (shocker!), parents are encouraging kids to pursue careers in digital fields, and a texting-while-driving tracking device is in production. Check out the news roundup and join the conversation in the comment section below.
Students Experience Increase in Cyberbullying During Elementary to Middle School Transition
A study that was recently published in School Psychology Quarterly found that students increasingly become targets of cyberbullying during the transition from elementary school to middle school. The study took place in the Midwest and examined three semesters of data following 1,180 students.
The study categorized students who were bullied into 4 groups:
29% were occasional victims of traditional bullying (verbal or physical bullying)
10% were occasional victims of traditional bullying and cyberbullying
Half of bullied students were infrequent victims
11% of bullied students were frequent victims
Long gone are the days when bullying solely consisted of having your lunch money swiped, receiving "swirlies" in the bathroom, having a "kick me" sign taped to your back, and being tripped in the hallway. With the big part that social media now plays in our daily lives, bullying continues past the ringing of the 3:00pm school bell. Though many instances of bullying are no longer face-to-face, it is becoming more severe and parents need to become aware of this.
With October being National Bullying Prevention Month, now is the perfect time to talk to your children about bullying. Some parents may think that with better security systems being implemented in schools across the nation, bullying is becoming less of a concern. However, that is far from reality.
According to Harrison Daily, "An estimated 13 million students are bullied annually."
One of the more insidious digital trends for tweens and teens has been the development of subtweeting. While this may sound like an innocent social media fad, this impression could not be further from the truth. Among digital trends for tweens, this is one of the worst because it is a form of cyberbullying that can be difficult to pin down and combat.
What is Subtweeting?
Subtweeting consists of using social media (Twitter being one example that inspired the name) to talk negatively about or gossip about a person without naming that individual specifically. All that people involved have to do is use descriptions, characterization or some sort of code to discuss the person with impunity. In some cases, this happens without the participants even realizing what they are doing.
Recently, the media has exploded with tragic stories and consequences of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is defined as bullying that occurs over electronic devices, often through texting, email or through social media websites such as Facebook. Bullies can send hurtful messages to other children, post embarrassing pictures of their peers on facebook, or send hateful email messages.
Cyberbullying takes on the same form as face to face bullying. The cyberbully will have a clear intent to harm the victim (either emotionally or by threatening them with physical harm), perceivable aggression in the messages, and a perceived or obvious imbalance of power over the victim by the cyberbully.
The abuse that children endure at the hands of cyberbullies leave many parents, teachers, and guardians wondering what causes the bullying to happen in the first place. Cyberbullies engage in harmful behaviors towards their peers for many reasons:
The cyberbully wants to feel powerful
Mobile smartphones and the internet have changed the way we interact in unprecedented ways. While there is no denying the many benefits of this, the drawbacks are also clear. This has especially become apparent in the world of teenagers and younger children. Cyberbullying is one of the worst culprits, and has spread through the country's cities and schools at an alarming rate.
Social media has taken the age-old problem of bullying and turned it into something even worse than it already was. No child is immune to this problem, and although it seems to be at its most prevalent in high schools, middle-school and even elementary school kids are impacted.
Cyberbullying, despite being a serious crime today, is a popular phenomenon among kids of all ages. Despite its severity, cyberbullying has largely gone under-punished because parents, teachers, and authorities were late in deciphering the needs of children when it came to information technologies. Even when caught, it’s often difficult to prosecute. Today’s newest technologies have morphed into anonymous dangers.
We see it in the news, we read about it in articles, we occassionaly hear about it happening in our communities. Cyberbullying may seem like a problem that happens at a distance from our own lives. However distanced you may feel from the issue, it is important for parents to know that cyberbullying is quite prevalent and happens in the shadows more often than we all realize.
Is This Problem Far-Reaching?
In a word, yes. All that you have to do is take a look at some of the statistics about Internet usage and accessibility as it relates to teens. In fact, DoSomething.org pulled together a list of statistics on the matter:
About 58% of kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than 4 out
Many celebrities and public figures have experienced cyberbullying in the past. Ciara once wrote an angry letter to her cyberbullies, Minnie Driver recently quit Twitter after being taunted about her vacation photos, and even Olympic athletes have been ridiculed online. A story we don't hear about often: a celebrity participating in cyberbullying.
Sixteen-year-old Alexis Carter was excited to dress up as one of her favorite celebrities Rihanna for a Hollywood-themed prom. Before the event, she posted photos of her dress, which mirrored a previous dress worn by Rihanna. She had a great time taking the pictures and was complimented throughout the night.
However, since prom other kids have been making fun of her outfit relentlessly through social media site Twitter. The hashtag #PromBat began trending and, before she knew it, Rihanna herself had commented negatively about the teen's outfit.
Fox Baltimore reports,
Even though state laws and parents are making efforts to combat cyberbullying, the number of teens who have been cyberbullied appears to remain high. Additionally, teens don't often seek out parents to help them when they encounter digital dangers. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Cox Communications have released a survey about teens, technology, and cyberbullying. The survey finds are startling to say the least! Here is an excerpt of major findings of the survey outlined in a NCMEC article:
Key trends among the teens surveyed include:
Three in 10 teens claim to have been bullied online (31 percent)
One in 10 admits to have bullied someone online
Of teens who admit to being bullied online, only 41 percent have told an adult
One of the more pernicious aspects of cyberbullying is that, due to the nature of the Internet, it can cross international lines. Amanda Todd was a 15-year-old living in British Columbia who committed suicide in 2012 after being extorted online by a stranger. Before Amanda committed suicide, she left behind a heart-wrenching YouTube video describing the horrors she suffered as a result of her cyberbully.
For many months, it was unsure if the cyberbully behind her suicide would be charged, or even identified. At one point Anonymous, an anarchist hacker group, got involved and fingered a Vancouver man as the culprit. The man turned out to be innocent and ended up accusing another man living in New York.
Now, 35-year-old Aydin Coban, who was living in Holland, has been arrested and charged with child pornography, extortion, criminal harassment and Internet luring.
The anonymous app fad continues with the release of a new app called Truth. The ThirdParent Blog recently released an article discussing the new app and how it may be used mostly for cyberbullying and sexting. All parents need to know about the potential dark side of this new app in order to shield tweens and teens from digital dangers. Here is an excerpt from the article:
"Well, parents, a new app called Truth launched this month and it has a shot at being the worst cyberbullying platform out there. Yik Yak and Ask.fm may pale in comparison to how few socially redeeming qualities Truth ends up having if it takes off with teens.
The concept behind Truth is an interesting one. After downloading Truth, users can anonymously message anyone who is already in their phone’s contact list. If the recipient has also downloaded the app, the recipient can view the message but has no indication whatsoever who the sender is. If the recipient is not yet a Truth user, he receives a text message showing part of the message and prompting him to download the app to see the full message. Again, the recipient will have no indication of who sent the message.