I think it is safe to say that I am a fan of technology and the newfound freedom it has allowed us. While some would argue that we are more tethered to our devices than ever, I would argue that having a world of knowledge at our fingertips means we’re constantly driven to want to learn: Truth and history are now right there for the reading on the internet.
I also realize that there is a dark side to all of this newfound interconnectivity. The ability to reach out and touch someone
anywhere, everywhere, any time is simply too much temptation for certain of our online brethren and sisteren, and they abuse the privilege of the internet and interconnected people for cyber bullying. When I was a kid, a cyber bully was the kid who kept feeding quarters into Pac-Man and not letting anyone else play, but in what should be our greatest age of coming together, there are those
tearing us apart. Some quick stats from the Cyber Bullying Research Center:
- Over 80 percent of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most popular form of technology and a common medium for cyber bullying.
- About half of young people have experienced some form of cyber bullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly.
- Mean, hurtful comments and spreading rumors are the most common type of cyber bullying.
- Girls are at least as likely as boys to be cyber bullies or their victims.
- Boys are more likely to be threatened by cyber bullies than girls.
- Cyber bullying affects all races.
- Cyber bullying victims are more likely to have low self esteem and to consider suicide.
The greatest thing about the internet is the privilege of getting to be a bit more anonymous (though IP addresses, etc. can be tracked) and cyber bullies are threatening that privilege. Nearly every time a politician introduces new legislation infringing on our human right to online anonymity (bad), it stems from cyber bullying and protecting kids (good). Here are 5 helpful tips to help keep kids, adults, and parents safe with regards to cyber bullying:
- Communicate: Parents, talk to your kids about their activities online and what they’re doing. If they are being bullied, already having open lines of communication will make them feel safe talking to you. If they’re bullying someone else, you can put an end to it quickly. If you are an adult being bullied, let friends, relatives, and police know about it. There may be more help than you think.
- Know the law: The Cyberbullying Research Center has some great info on state laws about cyber bullying, know which ones are in
effect for your state. Also, in any state you are going to need proof, so make sure to collect screenshots of specific examples of bullying before you speak up.
- Know the signs: Is your honor student suddenly struggling with grades? Is your very social friend suddenly aloof and quiet? These may be signs that something is going on.
- Know your community: Are you accepting friend requests from anybody and everybody? Do you know who is commenting on your status updates? Being safe online is easier when you know everyone in your crowd.
- Know your profiles: Do periodic Google searches on your name or have Google alerts set up on your name so you can keep track of profiles you’ve set up in the past, what info is being shared with the public, and possibly keep tabs on anything being said about you online. If you do come across something, don’t panic. Get the proof you need and report it.
I found the Cyberbullying Research Center a great reference for this piece. If you’d like more information or to connect
with them, you can find them online at: free to share your comments on cyber bullying in the comments below, tech.li readers!