“Cyber bullying” is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. Unlike traditional bullying, cyberbullying doesn’t require physical strength or face-to-face contact and isn’t limited to just a handful of witnesses at a time. Cyberbullies come in all shapes and sizes—almost anyone with an Internet connection or mobile phone can cyberbully someone else, often without having to reveal their true identity. cyberbullies can torment their victims 24 hours a day and the bullying can follow the victim anywhere so that no place, not even home, ever feels safe, and with a few clicks the humiliation can be witnessed by hundreds or even thousands of people online.
If you find that your child is being cyber bullied , be calm and listen in detail to the problem.
- Explain it’s never a good idea to retaliate
- Collect the evidence (screenshots, saving texts etc.)
- Get your child to change their privacy settings
- Ask your child if they know whether the same thing is happening to others. Encourage them to support their friends and report any abuse to the school.
- If there is any indication your child may be at risk, or if threats have been made, make a report to the police. Laws have been broken. Contact the internet service provider and the site owner so that material can be preserved but removed from public view.
Practical tips to help prevent harmful online behaviour
- Talk about technology with your children. It’s OK if they know more than you do.
- Reach an agreement about what acceptable online behaviour looks and feels like and how they will spend time online (e.g. homework, social networking, and gaming). If you and your children have regular conversations about the online world, they’ll be more likely to talk to you if they are harassed or cyberbullied or if something feels uncomfortable.
- For young children’s use it is appropriate to put filters in place, set security to ‘high’ and to keep a close eye on what they are doing online. And make sure you set agreements about how much time they can allocate to different activities.
- Make sure passwords are changed regularly and kept private even from friends, as friends sometimes become enemies and could use their online accounts in offensive or obnoxious ways. As children become older, supervision needs will diminish as they take responsibility for their own online behaviour.
- Many children don’t talk about cyberbullying or other negative experiences because they fear their access to technology will be removed. Reassure them this won’t happen. Cyberbullying is serious and not a case of ‘it’s just words’. Cyber-attacks have a lasting effect and can damage a child in a variety of ways.
- Like face-to-face bullying, cyberbullying is also usually a relationship problem that starts off at school but happens out of school hours, often on privately-owned devices. Even though the bullying doesn’t take place in school hours it can create serious problems back at school by affecting students’ feelings of safety, wellbeing and even their academic progress. Dealing with it therefore falls within a schools duty of care.