Healthy Living Blog – Preventing Cyberbullying While Learning Online
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. It’s a time for children, teens, parents, and educators to learn more about bullying to focus on how to stop it. Bullying is repeated unwanted aggressive behavior by one or several youths onto another youth, who is most likely their peer. There is usually unequal power between a bully and their victim that is created and maintained. Bullying can be physical, emotional, or social harm.
With many children and teens using digital devices and social media, cyberbullying has become a major concern. Since schools have shifted to online learning because of COVID-19, the risk of cyberbullying among students may increase. It’s important to know the warning signs of cyberbullying and how to prevent it.
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is bullying that happens on digital devices such as smartphones, computers, and tablets. It includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, untrue, or mean things about someone through text, social media, online forums, and even gaming. It also includes sharing someone’s personal or private information to embarrass them. Cyberbullying has special concerns in that it can be persistent, permanent, and hard to notice. Cyberbullying is very serious and those who cyberbully can get into legal trouble.
Warning signs that children and teens are involved in cyberbullying
- Increased or decreased use of devices, such as texting or being on social media.
- Visible emotional reactions to what is on a device such as anger or laughter.
- Hiding their screens or devices when people are close by and not wanting to talk about what’s happening.
- Not wanting to be in social situations.
- Feeling depressed or losing interest in people and activities.
- Getting poor grades or not wanting to log into the online class.
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits.
Ways to prevent cyberbullying
- Notice if there is a change in mood or behavior in your child or teen. Ask questions to find out what may be causing this and if these changes are happening when your child is on their devices.
- Talk to your child or teen to know who may be involved in cyberbullying and how long it’s been going for.
- Take pictures or save harmful posts of cyberbullying. It’s important to keep a record of this.
- Report cyberbullying and show the records to your child or teen’s school.
- Support your child or teen if they were being cyberbullied. If it’s okay with them, you can get involved to stop the cyberbullying. You can also connect them to the school guidance counselor or mental health professionals if needed.
- Create expectations for your online classroom. This includes the expectation that students should be respectful to each other and to you in their online interactions. Let them know that there can be consequences for being mean and disrespectful.
- Keep track of online interactions. Ask your students to help you keep an eye out for harmful and negative interactions happening in your online classroom. Have a record of hurtful posts.
- Connect with vulnerable students. Be supportive of them, especially if they are going through challenges from COVID-19.
- Be respectful to your classmates in online discussions.
- Report any case of cyberbullying to the teacher right away if you see or know about it. This can include any mean or hurtful comments happening on social media outside of school hours.
- Step in and directly tell someone who is cyberbullying to stop. This shows that you and your other peers don’t accept this behavior.
Have questions or curious to learn more? Please reach out to our youth program in the Wellness department. AACI provides services in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and many other languages. Call (408) 975-2730 to learn more today!