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Posts Tagged ‘cyberbullying teens’

Parenting In Social Media Age- Keep Kids Safe Online (Guest Expert)

Friday, December 6th, 2019

technologysonParenting has changed drastically in the past decade. Instead of dinner bells ringing children home, they now have cell phones. Social media has become an obsession and a favorite past time. With the changes in technology, changes in parenting become necessary.

You can keep your child safe in the social media age with a few tips to help you stay up to speed with today’s technology and your child’s plugged-in world.

Learn the Technology

First and foremost, for parents to be able to help, it is important that they understand how technology works and accept that technology is a big part of young people’s lives, says Silje Vallestad, CEO and founder of Bipper, a mobile safety app company. As cyber bullying situations continue to increase, parents must know how to operate and monitor apps, social media networks and various technology to ensure that their children are acting appropriately and that they are treated respectfully in what is a 24/7 public environment.

“For kids today, being stripped of their access to the social communities and technology in general is considered so bad that they won’t ask for help or tell parents about negative experiences,” says Vallestad. “Parents need to understand that there is a difference between the digital childhood of kids today and their own upbringing, and that access to technology is as important as access to paper and pens.”

Although social media is extremely important to your child, it doesn’t mean they should have full reign of the technology. “Parents should never grant kids access to technology without guiding them in the world of technology and to be able to guide their kids, they need to understand technology and online services,” says Vallestad. “I believe in parents spending time educating themselves, combined with frequent conversations between parent and child about the use of technology in general and use of specific services in particular.”

Use Technology to Bond with Your Child

Monitoring your child’s social media use does not have to be a negative experience, wherein you are acting the part of a spy. Use technology as an opportunity to learn something new from your children and brush up on your own skills. Vallestad, the mother of three kids all using technology, says she uses mobile app alerts that provide information on which social media applications her children are downloading.

“When I see that they have installed apps I either don’t know much about or that I’m worried about (such as SnapChat or Instagram), I make a point of having a good conversation about these services,” she says. “They teach me a lot about technology and the services while we talk about how things can be used for good or bad.”

These conversations can help to create trust between a parent and a child and allow opportunities to talk about how technology can be used to harm others and how to react in those situations. “With our frequent talks on tech, where I show that I’m both interested and involved in their digital lives and also allow them to use technology, I believe we have fostered an atmosphere where they will feel safe to tell me if something bad is happening,” says Vallestad.

Have a Plan of Action

As you are learning the technology, it’s important to remember the top three actions to take when your child is engaged in social media, according to Vallestad.

  • Technology is Important to Your Child: Understand that your kids need to use technology and be part of the online communities where their peers are. It’s part of their lives and if you remove it, you will probably create a growing gap between you and your child instead of fostering an atmosphere of dialogue.
  • Open Conversations are Necessary: Engage in open and trusting conversations with your kids about technology. Let them tell you, show you and teach you. Reacting with anger or shock to things you might see could result in your kids closing down conversations. Try to stay calm and ask questions. Together, you can agree on rules. Sometimes you both may come to the conclusion that a particular service is not ok. Other times, it is ok but you may require that you will be a friend or follower.
  • Research is Key: Do your own research on services and use that research to ask your kids the right questions. However, don’t automatically assume that your kids are using a questionable service in a wrong way simply because there is a lot of information online about that service being used negatively. Do keep an open eye and make sure you are neither naïve nor ignorant about social media.

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Ask.fm and Lesser Known Social Media Portals – Cyber Bullying Havens

Friday, October 18th, 2019

Ask.fm and Lesser Known Social Media Portals – Cyber Bullying Havens

Image Courtesy of sidedooryk.com

Parents of young adults, take heed. Facebook and Twitter aren’t the only places where your kids might be bullied. There exist thousands of other online avenues where people hide under the guise of ‘freedom of speech’ to say inappropriate and terrible things to your children. Take for example Ask.fm.

 

“Wait a minute. Why are you still alive?”

This is just one of the questions posted on the page of 12-year old Rebecca Sedwick, who killed herself last month by jumping from an abandoned cement building in Lakeland, Florida. Other questions included similarly horrible queries within the lines of “Why aren’t you dead?” and even non-questions “Drink bleach and die.”

Ask.fm is a social media site where users receive questions from anonymous people. According to LA Times report, millions of teenagers in the United States use this website to talk about late night parties, school work, and others subjects without parental supervision. Sedwick was tormented by about 15 girls her age on Ask.fm, among other lesser known social media portals.

The easily accessible technology of social media apps and virtually limitless internet connectivity gave way to an environment that thrives on anonymity. “These apps are free, and as a result … you can either go up anonymously or create a fictitious identification, and you can torment other children, and it is frightening to see that occur,” noted Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

 

“Yes ik  I bullied REBECCA nd she killed her self but IDGAF [I don’t give a f***]”

This was the exact status message of Guadalupe Shaw, 14 years old, after reports of Rebecca Sedwick committing suicide spread. “She needs more than God, she is disgusting,” said the first comment in Shaw’s status.

Police saw this message as a red flag. Along with 12-year old Katelyn Roman, county police arrested Shaw despite planning to delay any detainments due to the nature of the case and the age of the involved individuals. Sheriff Judd said that Roman and Shaw were the primary harassers.

When asked about the legality of the arrest and the case to be filed against the youngsters, Judd mentioned that although bullying in itself is not a crime, it can be grounds for stalking and aggravated stalking.

“We take bullying and cyber bullying exceptionally serious in this county and always have,” said Judd.

 

“Choose your words carefully.”

This was the advice that most experts in behavioral psychology want parents to instill to their children when dealing with cyber bullying. Because children grew up with technology that was not available back when their parents were growing up, research and coaching are imperative for parents to address the issue. These concepts were said by Dr. Elizabeth Englander from the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center on an instructional video found on VerizonWireless’s feature on a familial approach to address cyber bullying.

Part of this research involves being familiar with social networking sites that are overlooked such as the aforementioned Ask.fm, Kik (a smartphone messaging app), and SnapChat.

SnapChat is particularly controversial. Commonly used by adults to hook up by sending ‘pic trading’ or exchanging photos; this app has been the center of the social phenomenon called ‘sexting’. “The biggest part of these sites is parents don’t know about them,” said author of “Wit’s End: Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out of Control Teen” Sue Scheff.

The lack of initiative from parents to get involved with their children’s internet and social media actions create a difficult situation where harassment is only detected when it’s already too late, Scheff said. “It’s as simple as that. No one really knew a lot about Ask.fm until Rebecca died,” she noted.

Resources are always available online for parents to get the basic concepts of social media. How will you deal with it, if your child experiences cyber bullying?

 

Dennis Redley is an advocate of responsible internet usage. He supports various cyber safety initiatives including Verizon’s online safety campaign and Higher EdTech Asia. He is also an aspiring educator and takes part in counseling students.

 

Effects of Girls Who Bully Other Girls

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Effects of Girls Who Bully Other Girls

Bullying can take many different forms especially in a society that values technology so highly. Text bullying and online bullies are quite common. In particular, a girl bullying victims will often be much more subtle in the tactics used.

Queen Bees and Wanna Bees

Girls will usually form groups and use these to their advantage, encouraging a group to gang up on one victim. The Queen Bee is the leader and holds the keys of power to the clique. It is she who dictates what to wear, how to talk, walk and befriend.

The Wanna Bees, the other girls in the clique are in fear of disappointing the leader of the pack.  They are eager to share the power and gain favor in the eyes of the other mean girls in the group.

All girls want to belong to a social group and have friends. Queen Bees, the leader of a clique, can decide their fate in school. It is all about power.

Effects of Cyberbullying

Because students prefer to use phones for texting rather than talking, many texts and messages fly through cyber air about who is in and who is out.

One seventh grade girl told me recently, “None of our fights were face to face, we were too afraid the teacher would catch us. It is easier to fight online, because you feel more powerful. You can also be as mean as you want to on FaceBook. It is kind of fun to “dis” somebody.”

Cyberdramas of Girls

If there is a conflict between teenage couples, surprisingly, the girls will blame the girl and want to “punish her.”  In the Phoebe Prince suicide in Massachusetts, even though  the boy and girl were no longer dating, when he started dating Phoebe, she was bullied and attacked.

The groups will usually pick and choose their members and exclude others, sometimes completely at random.

While it is normal for both girls and boys to form social groups and strong bonds that naturally exclude others, it becomes bullying when power plays over individuals or other groups are involved.

Questions on Girls and Cyberbullying – We welcome comments

  • Why do you think girls turn against each other over the attention of a boy?
  • Do all cultures have cliques of girls?
  • Do you remember a Queen Bee from middle school?
  • Why do you think it is important for a young girl to fit into a group?
  • Is cyberbullying more dangerous than face-to-face bullying?

Protect Your Child From Cyber Bullying

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Protect Your Child From Cyber Bullying

Whether the bullying is direct or indirect, in person or over the internet, perpetrated by an individual or a group, one thing is consistent and that it is harmful to the target and the bully. Bullies who do not know or learn how to act with kindness and respect for others will always have flawed and dysfunctional relationships. Those who have been victimized and targeted for abuse are more likely to be depressed, to feel isolated, anxious, and to have low self-esteem.  They are also more likely to think about suicide.

Bullying Hurts Everyone

The world has always had bullies and now the internet has expanded the opportunities for teasing, taunting and harmful cyber-bullying online.  Many parents are caught unaware that their children may be involved in either bullying or being bullied by so-called friends and associates.

Almost one in four children between the ages of 11 and 19 has been the victim of cyber bullying. Nearly 35% of kids have been threatened online and about 75% have visited a Web site bashing another student. These studies are researched based, but my own causal conversations with students in the halls and playgrounds at school show them to be true and maybe even a little low.  It has become a scary world when one can be stalked, threatened and verbally bashed on a cell phone or computer.  Once the images or words are out there, they are literally there forever.

The psychological and emotional outcomes of cyber-bullying are similar to real-life bullying outcomes and can have serious aftereffects. As I interview experts and young adults about this problem it is very real and very damaging to self esteem, confidence and mental well being.  Many of the students tell me they hate school because the teasing can start there.  But then it can also go on all day, every day and everywhere.

Home Should be a Safe Place

Unfortunately, most parents and caregivers don’t know what to do about cyber bullying. This is new territory for parents who grew up and survived the playground politics.  Many parents are so busy and so tired (see previous post on Too Tired to Parent) that they are missing the clues of a stressed out child.

Find out how to monitor your child’s use of the Internet and cell phones without making them feel embarrassed or overtly supervised. Create open communication and discover how to respond if your child initiates or receives threats.

Prevention Tips Suggested By Students

  • Teach us how to deal with conflict.
  • Monitor our use of the computer.
  • Supervise but don’t snoop
  • Don’t freak out if I tell you something in confidence.
  • Ask me how I want you to handle it.
  • Don’t blame or shame me for being a victim

You can protect your child from cyberbullying.  You can give kids a sense of safety and security by teaching them how to set boundaries, how to judge if a problem is a big one that needs adult help or a small one they can work out themselves.  As you work together to practice setting boundaries and speaking in an assertiveness voice, you will find more confidence in yourself and empathy for others.

You can do it.  I have confidence in you.