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Tips Countering Cyberbullying

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. As a technology company, SKT wants to see bullying and cyberbullying prevented every month of the year.

What is cyberbullying? It’s the digital version of bullying – where bullying and technology overlap. Perpetrators hurt, embarrass, or threaten others (mostly due to complex power imbalances) by aggressive, targeted, repetitive harassment online through connected devices. And because young people spend a lot of time on social media, much of their interaction can take place online, via texts, apps, games, and sites. The most common places where cyberbullying occur are on social media, text messaging, email, apps, forums, or gaming – anywhere people can view, participate in, or share content, including, but not limited to, very personal information, pictures, or videos.

WHY IS CYBERBULLYING SO HARMFUL?

Just like bullying, cyberbullying is rooted in relationships and how young people interact every day. With the proliferation of technology, targets of cyberbullying can’t escape it easily. It’s public, can be anonymous and hard to trace, is infinitely replicable, and nearly impossible to delete once posted on the Internet. Cyberbullies don’t have to confront their victims face-to-face, and therefore often become more brazen. Victims may not be able to find “safety” – at home, on vacation, or even by changing schools … and it’s hard to know how many people see (or don’t even see) a hurtful post or picture, but it’s out there, 24/7.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS THAT SOMEONE IS BEING BULLIED ONLINE?

Signs of cyberbullying may include stress or agitation when on the computer or phone, a constant state of upset or fear; problems with mood, energy level, appetite; decreased self-esteem, difficulty sleeping, or frequent nightmares; feeling jumpy, anxious, or helpless; declining grades, not wanting to go to school; sad, depressed, entertaining thoughts of hurting themselves, or even suicide.

Because parents and teachers may not overhear or see cyberbullying taking place, it can be hard to recognize. Make it a point to know how your kids are doing online as well as offline!

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO HANDLE A CYBERBULLY?

  • Don’t react or retaliate;
  • Delete or block the bully;
  • Tell parents, teacher, or a trusted adult in a position of authority;
  • Save and keep the evidence of cyberbullying;
  • If necessary, report cyberbullying to the service, school authorities or police.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?

  • Don’t be a “Bystander” – Just standing by can empower an aggressor and does nothing to help.
  • Do be an “Upstander” – Intervene in a positive way. If you can’t safely stop it, at least support the person being bullied. Offer a kind word, let them know they are not alone; at the very least, don’t pass along a mean message.
  • Strive for Good Digital Citizenship! Remember – cyberbullying can harm the online reputations of everyone involved – not just the person being bullied, but those doing the bullying and participating in it. Think before you post to avoid leaving an online identity trail that you may regret.

Resources: kidshealth.org, stopbullying.gov, pacer.org