Bullying is one of those age-old parts of childhood and adolescence that everyone seems to have gone through at some point, and it’s common for victims of bullying to hear advice like “It won’t last forever,” or “Just ignore the mean kids and they’ll go away.”
The main problem today, however, is that bullying isn’t the same as it was “back in the day” (you know, when you had to walk six miles to school, uphill both ways, in two feet of snow, without boots). Something called “cyberbullying” is beginning to push traditional bullying methods out of the way, and beyond the fact that most adults can’t comprehend the severity of online bullying (simply because they’ve never been directly involved in it), it’s harder than ever to protect your kids online and monitor whether or not they’re dealing with bullies (or being bullies themselves).
But what exactly is cyberbullying, and how is it any different from traditional bullying?
As the name would suggest, cyberbullies use social sharing websites and apps to pressure, tease, and threaten their peers. Instead of making jokes in the lunch room or knocking a classmate’s books over in the hallway, cyberbullies are able to spew out hurtful insults and threats from behind their computer screens.
Whereas traditional bullying often incorporates a physical form of intimidation or injury, cyberbullying is more psychological. Time and time again, studies have shown that this sort of abuse has long-lasting effects on victims, and has been the direct cause for countless cases of teen depression, anxiety, and suicide.
It might be surprising, but teens themselves are actually very aware of the severity of online bullying. Even though 95% of all teens online have seen other people ignoring an instance of someone bullying a peer, about 84% of teens say that they’ve seen someone stand up for the victim. Overall, nearly 70% of teens today agree that cyberbulling is a serious problem.
As a parent, it isn’t always possible to protect your kids online and monitor internet activity at every point during the day, especially when they start growing up and want to have more freedom and trust. There’s plenty of social media monitoring software for parents on the market today, but the power of face-to-face conversations with your kids, regarding tips on internet safety, shouldn’t be ignored.