Cyberbullying: How Can We Help?

As technology use inside and outside of schools increases and children younger and younger are having access to social media outlets, cyber bullying is becoming more and more prevalent among our young generation. Cyber Bullying is described by Stopbullying.gov as “bullying that takes place using electronic technology including cellphones, computers, and tablets communicating through text messages, email, social media, and chat websites.” The site also reports that cyber bullying causes low self esteem, poor grades, absence from school, drug and alcohol use, and physical and emotional health issues. Understood.org, a website for learning and attention issues, describes how cyber bullying can come in many different forms. This includes mean emails or texts, hurting someones character or creating a hostile place in an online game, impersonating someone, repeatedly trying to contact someone, stealing passwords, direct threats online, starting rumors online, sharing embarrassing photos or videos online without permission, etc (Knorr, n.d.). So what can educators do to educate their students on cyber bullying and thus help prevent it? First and foremost, teaching about how to properly use computers is a good start. Brian P. Gatens of Concordia University writes a blog on what teachers can do to educate their students here. He says to start by stating what you expect of your students, meaning no mean words said to peers, no joining anonymous posting sites, and no talking about others in a negative way on any site. It is also important to continuously emphasize the overall “golden rule” of treating others the way you want to be treated, and reminding children to be kind to their peers. In order to make sure these things are sticking with the children, having parents involved is also a good measure to take. Reinforcing kindness at home is likely to reflect in the school setting as well. Lastly, in order to teach proper digital citizenship skills it’s imperative to remind young Internet users that everything they share is permanent and public. They need to use caution when posting at all times. Personally my classroom is most likely going to include children between the ages of 3 and 6, discussing cyber bullying is going to more likely encompass real life bullying as well. Before I even introduce the concept of online bullying I will consistently talk to children about treating each other with respect, and treating others the way you want to be treated. Since younger children may not understand the idea of spreading rumors, online threats, spreading pictures, or some other more mature forms of cyber bullying, it’s better to start off by explaining the importance of keeping personal information private and not talking with anyone you don’t know. Cyber bullying is running rampant in schools all over the world, but the more teachers who take the necessary time and effort to educate their students and parents who follow along, the easier we can wipe it out and continue our Internet use and technological advances with less issues.
Cyberbullied-by-age
(image source: https://davidwees.com/content/have-you-been-cyber-bullied/)

Standards:

“5.2 Teachers create an environment that is physically and emotionally safe.” By discussing cyber bullying at all age levels and reminding students the dangers of it the goal is to make all students feel safe and supported in my classroom. Cyber bullying is zero tolerance and it is my hope that this creates a safe environment for all of the students.

“7.3 Teachers are agents of change who seek opportunities to positively impact
teaching quality, school improvements and student achievement.” This applies because even though teachers talk about cyber bullying, it still happens. But as I mentioned, the only way we can eliminate it is by promoting change and constantly educating others about it. This standard fits in that as a teacher it is my job to constantly improve my students and their school.

“1.1 Teachers understand how and when students develop and gain knowledge,
acquire skills and develop behaviors for learning.” This standard applies when teaching about cyber bullying because it’s important to know the age of your audience before teaching this topic, as there are some elements that may not be relevant until children are older.

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