Cyberbullying: The Fist of Technology
By Mary Hannah Ellis
Most of you probably remember your school bully at each level of your education – the tall fifth grader who liked to knock over kindergartners on the playground, or the burly, egotistical jock who made everyone else feel inferior with his brash jokes. However, a student could mostly avoid these school bullies by staying out of their way. Today, technology has enabled a new, ubiquitous form of bullying called “cyberbullying.” Cyberbullying involves a minor’s harassment, tormenting, humiliation, embarrassment, threatening, or otherwise targeting of another minor via technology.
Cyberbullying occurs through a variety of media, including social networking sites, text messages, online chat services, and email messages, to name a few. Facebook and twitter are some of the most active sites for cyberbullying.
Do you suspect that your child or teen is a cyberbully or a victim of cyberbullying? Here are some warning signs to consider:
Your child or teen may be engaging in cyberbullying if he/she:
• Constantly uses the computer, even at all hours of the night
• Is secretive about his/her activities on the computer
• Appears nervous when using the computer or cell phone
• Quickly stops using the computer or switches screens when someone approaches
• Becomes excessively angry when cell phone or computer privileges are revoked
• Uses multiple accounts on different websites
Your child or teen may be a victim of cyberbullying if he/she:
• Unexpectedly stops using the computer or cell phone
• Avoids talking about what he/she is doing on the computer or cell phone
• Appears nervous upon receiving a text message, chat message, or email message
• Appears angry, depressed, upset, or frustrated after using the computer or cell phone
• Withdraws from interacting with usual friends
• Seems uneasy about going to school or going out in public
Children and teens who are victims of cyberbullying are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, have lower self-esteem, skip school, experience physical bullying, have poor academic performance, and have more physical health problems. Interestingly enough, cyberbullies themselves are also more likely to be bullied in real life and to have low self-esteem. There is also a significant risk of suicidal ideation associated with cyberbullying. With very little warning, a victimized kid could snap and hurt themselves or others. Without a doubt, cyberbullies and victims of cyberbullying could benefit from counseling or psychological intervention.
Contact us to find out how we can help.