Does Your Teen Have the Tools to Handle Cyberbullying?
We’re living in an age where incivility and trolling is not only common, it’s become the new normal.
It’s a sea of sadness when we read headlines of peer cruelty and youth dying as the word bullycide has now entered our vocabulary.
Generations earlier, before technology and social playgrounds such as Instagram and Snapchat, kids were teasing and mocking each other in schools, neighborhoods or on their traditional playground with monkey bars and swings.
What hasn’t changed is name-calling.
Being called offensive names is the most offensive form of cyberbullying according to teens in this survey at 42 percent, followed by someone spreading false rumors about them on the internet at 32 percent.
The difference between twenty years ago and today is that with technology, your insults are magnified by a million.
Resilience can be learned
Resilience is a word we’re all familiar with; however, with the rise of online hate and harassment, it’s imperative to discuss how to build digital resilience with our teens.
In the PEW Research survey, teens share that parents are, overall, doing a good job in helping them handle cyberbullying—however, they felt that teachers, social media platforms and others could be more involved.
Digital resilience is a tool that helps people of all ages move through the difficulties of trolling and cyber-combat.
1. Prepare them (and yourself) for the ugly side of the Internet or possibly being upset by what people say. Remind them there could be inappropriate content that slips through filters. Being forewarned is being forearmed.
2. Show them how to block individuals, flag and report abusive content, and when to report incidents. Emphasize the importance of telling someone “in real life.”
3. Show your teen how easily digital pictures can be manipulated. The realization that not everything is what it seems is a useful first step—understanding that life is not as perfect as it may seem virtually. Teens may be familiar with the digital world but less familiar with the motivations for creating ‘fake’ images.
4. Critical thinking. Help them to think through the possible consequences of what they post online. Remind them that there is no rewind: once it’s posted, it’s nearly impossible to take back. Fifteen minutes of humor is not worth a lifetime of humiliation.