Written by Ethan Freeman
Cyberbullying is bullying transferred to the realm of cyberspace. With the advent of digital communication and social media sites, bullies took to the Web as a new way to torment peers. Bullying online can have serious repercussions, and parents and teachers should be very concerned.
The National Crime Prevention Council has claimed that when teens were asked why they think their peers bully online, 81 percent said that cyberbullies think it's funny. Cyberbullying can involve impersonation to libel teens, spreading rumors and threats about the victims or posting reputation-damaging pictures without consent. They've also been known to manipulate people into revealing personal information to use to the victim's detriment. Social networking sites and cellphones have replaced traditional playgrounds and school hallways as the bully's place to prey.
October marks National Cyber Awareness Month to raise awareness about cybersecurity and increase our nation's resiliency in case of a cyberattack. This marks the perfect time for families to discuss how to properly and safely use the Internet, especially for children. Cyber protection services like LifeLock can aid Internet users in the fight to protect information.
Parents and teachers must work together to educate children about the seriousness of cyberbullying and how and why to report it. Encourage students to report all incidents of cyberbullying to either faculty, parents or anonymous hotlines.
Share the following cyberbullying solutions with your kids:
Cyberbullyhotline.com provides an anonymous bully reporting solution. The local hotline routes messages directly to school officials. Another option is to tell your parents or a trusted teacher.
2.) Never Propagate
Refuse to “like,” tweet or pass messages or posts that display offensive intent. Stop cyberbullying where it starts—never take part in spreading the pain this bullying causes.
3.) Protect Information
Never share personal information or passwords. If you login to social networking sites in public locations or at friend's houses, make sure that you logout and ensure the computer doesn't save your password.
Block or report cyberbullies and their messages. Many sites allow you to block users or appear invisible online. You'll have the ability to block specified phone numbers with some newer model cellphones. Contact your cellphone service provider if the issue can't be fixed otherwise.
The Internet is a public space hence the “World Wide Web.” Be completely cognizant of this fact before you post or send something foolish. This goes for photos as well. Inappropriate material can come back to haunt you when you're applying for jobs, scholarships and internships.
6.) Unknown Messages
Never open social networking messages, emails or text messages from unknown senders. Delete them immediately; don't be tempted to read them. The messages or links can contain a virus to infect your device or collect private information.
7.) Search Yourself
The Cyberbullying Research Center suggests “Googling” yourself. If any personal info or photos come up that can be used as ammunition for cyberbullies, remove it immediately.
8.) Privacy Controls
If you haven't already, modify privacy controls so your information on Facebook or Google+ are only seen by trustworthy friends. You may want to “unfriend” people you've never actually met or don't know well.
Cyber Wars Escalating (GEI News, 24 October 2012)