What’s Going On?
Children, tweens, and teens—unfortunately—have always had to deal with bullying and drama. We did, our parents did, our grandparents did…and so on. Traditional in-person bullying and drama still exists.
But our youth today also have to deal with bullying and drama online now because of how connected they have become with each other through technology. They have more avenues of staying connected than us, through texts, emails, online gaming, video chat and of course, social media.
These are fertile grounds for conflicts to arise, and a perfect tool for bullies to hide behind anonymity of user names and target people.
As we continue to live both online and offline, we must teach our children to handle conflict and strangers well. Because of the scale of the internet, there’s a lot of scope of digital drama to unfold around us in the form of mean comments, rude replies and in the worst case cyberbullying.
What Is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is the use of digital tools—computers, cellphones, ipads/tablets—to intentionally upset or harass another person. The most common examples of cyberbullying are sending hurtful messages, posting embarrassing or inappropriate photos/videos, and spreading rumors online. The bullying often happens repeatedly.
Let’s look at bullying by definition of what it is:
There are four “tests” for behavior to be considered bullying, which can be remembered by the acronym PAIN.
For it to be bullying it must:
P – reflect an imbalance of Power- the person engaging in bullying has a real or perceived power over the person being bullied (i.e. age, size, popularity, role, group, etc.)
A – be Aggressive – (including various forms of aggression: physical, emotional, relational)
I – be Intentional – in person or via social media (cyberbullying)
N – occur Numerous times (Repetitive)
Cyberbullying On the Rise in U.S. Schools, Federal Report Finds:
According to a Cyberbullying Research Center report of Jan, 2018, 34% of kids ages 12 to 17 are victims of cyberbullying. Read more on such news HERE.
What Is Digital Drama?
Digital drama can be a series of things happening once in a while or constantly in the lives of our children and teens. Some children can be mean and try to ignore your comments or friend requests. Sometimes children can be kicked out of conversations for no apparent fault of their and added into old conversations that they know nothing about.
Digital drama is often relatively harmless, but sometimes with sensitive children and with children suffering with low self-esteem, it can get out of hand fairly quickly. Digital drama is the word that describes the everyday interaction/verbal exchanges of friends online. What might start off as innocent banter can quickly escalate and spread as dangerous rumors.
How To Stop Cyberbullying And Digital Drama:
Talk with your students about these topics and emphasize following four steps.
1) Stop—if there appears to be cyberbullying or even digital drama, tell your student to step away from his or her digital device. “Take a Break.”
2) Tell. Reassure your student that you love and support them, and that they should come talk to you—or another trusted adult—with any concerns.
3) Save. Print out comments or screen shot the disturbing material.
4) Block. Block the bully on the digital device to prevent him or her from texting/e-mailing/posting to your student.
As with anything in life, keeping an open communication channel with our children is key. Maintaining an ongoing and honest dialogue with them about cyberbullying and digital drama is necessary to ensure they thrive in the digital world of friends and strangers.
Help With Bullying Online And Off:
Click here for RESOURCES
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