Teaching Kids About Cyberbullying

Teaching kids about cyberbullying is important with today’s world. Everyone has smart phones and social media. This means what happens to our kids at school easily can come home with them.

Cyberbullying is on the rise. It can come in many forms, some of you might not have thought about. Us as adults see the main form all the time. We call it Trooling. When people make rude or lewd comments to try to be funny or just plain mean. As adults it is very easy to block people or bark back but for kids it can be troublesome. It is one thing to have a stranger make a comment online but when it comes from peers, it can be devastating.

Peer pressures and the need to fit in at school is big. When comments are made at night about someone, everyone knows by the next day. It has happened with my oldest daughter and can really make things hard.

But what about the other forms of cyberbullying. Sending out embarrassing pictures of someone or making the ever popular memes. Those can be just as hurtful and stuck online for ever. Even something like a picture of drinking can haunt someone later in life trying to get a job.

Another form is sending text messages out. Say someone writes what they think is a private message only to find out it was shared. Now everyone knows what is going on and the ridicule begins. This one was the biggest teaching point for me as most people don’t realize this.

Stats On Cyberbullying:

Before I get into the teachings I do with my kids, I will share some stats. These stats all come from stopabully.ca. Check out their site for more stats plus a ton of great resources.

  • 64% of kids have been bullied in some form and the same amount think it’s a normal part of school.
  • 1 in 5 kids have witnessed online bullying
  • 51% of all teens have had a negative experience with social media.
  • 16% have had an embarrassing photo posted of them.
  • 90% of parents know about cyberbullying but only 73% are concerned

These are just a few of the stats. Quite alarming if you ask me. Such a very important topic that us parents need to teach to our children and put a stop to this. The RCMP here in Canada also have some great information on bullying. Their site also has some great links for kids to get help if it is happening to them.

Most kids feel that the popular people in school are doing the bullying. Using harassment to move up in the peer world still goes on but unlike when I was young it doesn’t end when the bell rings.

Teaching About Cyberbullying:

Us as parents need to teach about cyberbullying. But how do you teach this to kids who know everything!

For myself it starts even before allowing the cell phones. Kind of a tie-in following normal bullying talks. For me, the issue of bullying never stops being talked about in my home.

The best way to start the conversation about cyberbullying is bringing it up when kids start using technology. After that, monitor their use and talk when you see something wrong. Keep listening to your kids when they talk about their day. Never stop the conversation and if problems arise ask how you can help. Tell your kids you will step in if they want or if you see big problems you will intervene.

Here are a few ways I brought up the conversation with my oldest daughter.

I started social media myself around the time my oldest daughter did. It was a way for me as a parent to learn about it so I could teach her safe ways to share and interact with people. I showed her sites to avoid, how to block people and what to do if someone just won’t leave you alone. I also told her not to engage with people in a negative manner. If you have a problem with someone, don’t blast them online as words can never be taken back.

Like most teens you feel untouchable online. So to prove this point to my daughter I screen shot a Twitter post she wrote about me. She was angry and vented online saying something like I wish my dad would just fuck off and not be involved. Now those aren’t the exact words but it was referring to the context. I saw it was liked and RT’d quite a bit and so I told her to remove it. After an argument where I was told she was just venting so it’s ok, dad proved his point. I put the screen shot out there and tagged her in it. What a wakeup call! She saw how fast I saved her message and spread it around even though she deleted it about 20min after going live.

I also told her to watch what pictures you put up so people don’t grab them and modify them in any way. It wasn’t don’t post, more like be aware. I showed here memes to which she laughed, but then asked do you think that person knows about it and is ok. Quite the eye opener for her as like most people you don’t really think about it.

Now the hardest part for any teen is sharing what people say. Just like adults even now with the whole did you hear what so and so did. I told her not to get too wrapped up in drama and watch what you say about people even to friends. The phone game is strong in highschool and word travels faster now.

Taking a screen shot of a conversation and then sharing it with someone else is cyberbullying. I was told it’s no big deal, until it happened to her. One of her friends had sent out a text of her saying something. Eventually another friend sent it back to her saying look whats going around. Well how does that make you feel? She then realized not to get involved with that garbage and to call people out on it.

Never text out or post online anything negative without thinking first. Will this hurt them? Could this be taken out of context? Will this change people’s views of that person? Most importantly, How would I feel if this was said about me.

Now my oldest daughter, like all my kids have dealt with their fair share of bully’s. Cyberbullying has hit our home, but because we have open communication, the effects are minimal. I take a huge role in teaching to be a part of the solution and not the problem. I trust my daughter with her online presence and would not want it any other way for my kids.