My fifteen year old son has been on the Internet since he was about 10 or 11. When he was 12, he got his first laptop and I monitored him on a regular basis to make sure that his web surfing was safe and fun. When he turned 15, I tapered down a bit in terms of giving him his space and privacy. But I still monitor his web usesage and his Facebook page and Myspace page. I’ve only come across one thing that made me question what was going on but he had an explanation which I understood.
My very good friend Jessica and I were talking yesterday on the phone about online bullying. She brought up a good point that a person innocently mentioning what they are going to do someone or threatening to cause harm to someone online can be used against them as cyber bullying. Society takes these types of threats very seriously as they should. There has been an increase of violent crimes and bullying amongst teens on the internet, and it needs to be stopped.
I know I didn’t take online bullying seriously until 2006 when I heard of a situation here in St. Louis where a teenaged girl committed suicide because a Myspace boyfriend said horrible things about her. What it turned out to be was a a mother of a local teen posing as a boy in order to upset the teenage girl. This online “trick” cost the life of a teen and now her family is left to pick up the pieces. For more on the Megan Meier case, click HERE.
What is cyber bullying? According to StopCyberBullying.org:
“Cyberbullying” is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor. Once adults become involved, it is plain and simple cyber-harassment or cyberstalking. Adult cyber-harassment or cyberstalking is NEVER called cyberbullying.
Sending emails, direct messages, text messages, writing blog posts about someone, posting pictures, impersonating someone, and internet polling are all types of cyber bullying. Video taping fights and placing them on sites like You Tube and Facebook, etc is also a form of cyber bullying.
How can we stop Cyber bullying?
StopCyberBullying.org says that you and your child should actively Google your child to see if their name comes up on any sites to research what is being said about them. You can also set up Google Alerts so that if it is mentioned, an alert will be emailed to you and your child.
Report any conduct that can be titled as Cyber Bullying to your local law enforcement immediately. Also, know the definition of Cyber Bullying.
Get your child’s school involved. If they have any workshops or meetings regarding this subject, make sure you attend and ask questions. If there are no such meetings, get with your school’s administrators and plan one.
Talk to your child and monitor their online activity. Urge your child to tell you if something is wrong at school. Stop the bullying before it stops.
If your child is a bully, stop this activity now. If need be, seek counseling, Be honest with yourself and your child.
Check your cellphone bill and text usesage. If there are an unusually high amount of incoming texts, there could be a problem.
For more information, check out your local law enforcement website, or you can click HERE.
Be proactive and notice the signs. The Internet is already a dangerous place. Let’s do our part to keep it safe!