February 2, 2018
Let’s say you’re a kid and you’re perusing your favorite site with a Facebook tab open in another window. You hear the familiar “blinngk” noise that sounds when someone wants to talk to you. You don’t remember “friending” them, but you have several mutual friends so they must know you. After a rousing, friendly chat online, you think you might have a little crush.
We just had normal, friendly chats. He would ask: what are you studying? Where are you from?
The crush grows and blossoms over the course of a few weeks, and you finally feel comfortable enough to share more intimate parts of yourself – both information and pictures. Then much to your chagrin, you arrive at school or work, and everyone is staring at you with wide-eyed pity, scorn and/or disgust.
Your friend, who mostly just pities you at this point, alerts you that your personal information has been plastered across an online forum in the most unflattering manner possible, and now the whole world knows what your spare tire looks like, and about that nasty bout of bulimia you went through. Your dirty laundry and biggest secrets are now aired out for everyone to see.
The Yucky Facts
According to dosomething.org, a whopping 43 percent of teenagers have experienced some sort of cyberbullying, by online bullies, and 25 percent have experienced it multiple times. As a species, humans are evolving to rely more on digital technology to communicate with one another, with over 2.4 billion people online, a 500-plus percent increase in the last ten years alone.
There are a lot of good advances in technology, but this is the dark side and it needs to be tackled. Its effects range from sleepless nights through to self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
Interacting online changes how we deal with one another on a number of deep psychological levels, as it takes away our ability to read tone and inflection. It also helps those who otherwise would not have the courage to anonymously slander, degrade, humiliate and target victims for a myriad of reasons. According to Lifelock.com, children are even being targeted for actual crimes, as identity theft methods continue evolving with technology. The internet has truly become the wild west of verbal duels and cyber-crimes.
What To Watch Out For
There’s no magic bullet when it comes to dealing with online bullies. But as a general rule of thumb, the more education someone has, the better they can identify suspicious or red-flag-type behavior. Cyberbullyinghelp.com has some excellent resources for parents and children to utilize when dealing with this unfortunate phenomenon.
“Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke.” – –Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister
According to a 2017 survey by comScore, an internet analytics company, nearly 70 percent of parents rarely or never monitor their children’s social media activities. This gives teens the opportunity to run wild with anything their young minds can conjure. Many parents have a “my child would never do that” attitude, which is simply an excuse to not take responsibility for your children.
Unless you’re a deadbeat absentee parent, you should have a pretty good idea of whether your child is outgoing and/or popular at school. These indicators can often help determine whether your teen might succumb to peer pressure, pick on someone else, or turn the other way while others do. Cyberbullying is as difficult to pinpoint as it is to define. It will take a legion of concerned parents and proactive teenagers advocating against it to build a safer online world.
Moira is a freelance writer who is a stay-at-home mom and a devoted wife. She specializes in DIY (do it yourself) and is working on a book for DIY single moms. Moira is a guest columnist at Essay Help and contributes to various social articles!
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