With the new world of social networking everyone has an opinion and everyone feels that their opinion should be heard. Not so. Sometimes kids act out their bully behavior online because they don’t have the strength to say or do anything face to face. But kids don’t realize that once something is online, it’s very difficult to remove it and often it can hang around for many years and continue to do damage the whole time. Kids nowadays are more connected than ever. My 7-year-old is counting down the days until he can get a Smartphone (little does he know that there are only 3650 days to go). This exposure and use of technology makes kids more vulnerable to cyber-bullies. Cyber-bullies send threatening texts or posts. They make rumors or post personal pictures to embarrass a person. Sometimes they pose as someone else online to stir up trouble and then let the trouble unfold for the unsuspecting victim.
Kids today are also not thinking about the exposure they present online. There was a recent trend where kids posted short videos of themselves and asked “Do you think I’m ugly?” Then others post in the comments terrible things from just mean words to threatening messages. Why would kids put themselves in such a position. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it’s someone else posting their video and opening the door to ridicule for an unsuspecting person. That is pretty extreme but cases like this are not that rare. NationalSave.org, a bully defense and education group, estimates that 2 of 5 kids are cyber-bullied each day.
How do we stop this? First we reduce our risk by simply practicing safe behaviors online.
Don’t talk or chat with strangers.
Don’t open e mails from unknown sources,.
Only text friends or numbers you know or recognize.
Protect your cell phone with a password
Use top privacy controls and security features on social networks.
Lastly, don’t respond to cyber-harassment. Tell an adult but save any messages for evidence of cyber-bullying
It is particularly scary for a child to receive these threats and messages from someone they don’t know. It is imperative that kids understand what is appropriate in handling these cyber-sissies who don’t have the strength to have a face to face conversation. Most likely they are just trying to scare the recipient, but just in case, always treat it like a credible threat.
Next time we will wrap up this series.