Cyberbullying is a growing form of bullying that is especially hard to see. Cyberbullying involves sending or posting hurtful, embarrassing, or threatening text or images using the Internet, cell phones, or other digital communication devices. Using these technologies, cyberbullies can reach a wide group of people very quickly. Their goal: to damage their victim’s reputation and friendships.
Cyberbullying can involve:
- Spreading rumors or posting false or private information
- Getting other people to post or send hurtful messages
- Excluding someone from an online group
Young people cyberbully for many reasons. Some do it to deal with their anger, seek revenge, or make themselves appear better than their peers. Others do it for entertainment or for the pleasure of tormenting others. Still others do it simply because they can. By remaining anonymous, and avoiding face-to-face contact, cyberbullies may not realize the consequences of their actions. As a result, they are more likely to say and do things they might hesitate to say or do in person. And young people are often hesitant to report cyberbullying because they are afraid that doing so will lead to restrictions on their own Internet or cell phone use or they believe nothing can be done to stop it.
Some things adults can do to help prevent cyberbullying:
- Keep computers in visible places so that you can monitor use.
- Talk with children about safe and responsible use of the Internet and cell phones, and about the dangers of cyberbullying.
- Discuss what to do when cyberbullying occurs, such as ignoring the posting or calmly, but firmly, telling the cyberbully to remove the harmful material.
- Remind children not to share any personal information online.
- Encourage children to tell you if they are being cyberbullied or know others who are. Assure them that you will help them deal with the problem.
- Set appropriate limits.
Kowalski, Robin, Ph.D., Limber, Susan, Ph.D., & Agatston, Patricia Ph.D. (2008). Cyber Bullying: Bullying in the Digital Age. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
Patchin, Justin & Hinduja, Sameer. (2008). Cyberbullying: Adolescent Aggression in the 21st Century. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Let’s Fight it Together. (2007). Childnet; Department for Children, Schools and Families. www.digizen.org/cyberbullying/fullFilm.aspx
This 7 minute film, available via the Internet, was produced in the United Kingdom to help sensitize young people to the pain and hurt which can be caused by cyberbullying.
Websites with Online Cyberbullying Resources
Provides curriculum, information on in-school workshops, and tips for responding to cyberbullying.
Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use
Provides effective strategies to assist young people in developing the skills to behave in a safe, responsible and legal manner when using the Internet. Includes information and resources for parents and educators, including a “Parent’s Guide to Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats” by Nancy Willard. (2007).
Explores the causes and consequences of online harassment; includes fact sheets and resource lists.