Cyberbullying & Digital Drama
Cyberbullying has become a problem in our society. Although the frequency of cyberbullying is not significantly different than playground bullying and may even be less common, cyberbullying holds the potential to escalate and/or be more extreme because it is often out of view. Here's some important things to know/consider:
As always, please feel free to discuss this topic with your local Teacher-Librarian and/or IT Specialist.
- Talking online is different than talking face to face: It is not obvious that words have any impact when expressed online. The recipient cannot be seen or heard. Facial expressions and other gestures are non-existent online. What some may consider a joke can easily be received as mean or hurtful and that is especially true when the message is not accompanied by the other non-verbal aspects of communication.
- Make sure that kids know someone that they can trust: Students need to have trusted adults in their lives. Help them to foster those important relationships. Encourage students to talk with those trusted adults about online situations that make them uncomfortable or feel bullied.
- Do not respond to a cyberbully, but save the evidence: Natural temptation in some cyberbullying situations is for the victim to respond to or confront the bully. Unfortunately, this can just escalate the situation. A good first step is to simply ignore the communication. However, it is important to save the evidence. Should situations escalate or should bullying be repeated, ask a trusted adult for advice.
- Be an upstander not a bystander: If you are aware of a situation that is causing your friends or classmates any distress or anxiety, you are not helping them by staying silent. That does not mean that you confront the bully. It means that you let the victim know that you support them. It may also mean that you consult with a trusted adult about the situation. There are ways to report these situations and remain anonymous. SafeOregon (http://safeoregon.com/report-a-tip/) is one such way.
- Remember it is not tattling if you are protecting someone: Some "fear" being labeled a "tattletale" or "snitch". It is important to realize that the intent of consulting with a trusted adult about this type of situation is actually protecting that victim. And in fact, you are helping the bully too. Stopping a situation before it escalates any further can prevent an unintended hurtful comment from turning into something much bigger.
- What about bullying in social media and gaming? Most reputable gaming and social media resources have an ability to report bad behavior. And to the surprise of some, the providers of those resources actually want to know when behavior has crossed a reasonable line - poor behavior in their system is not in their best interests either. Look for links to report bad/inappropriate behavior. Or, do a Google search for "report abuse on twitter" (substitute the particular resource in question)...
- Do not share your passwords: It is a common tactic to use someone else's account while cyberbullying, This allows the cyberbully to obscure their true identity. These cases are especially problematic because, in addition to the bully and the victim, there is now another victim (the person who's account was used) and this third victim is often called into scrutiny for something that they did not knowingly participate in. And, this third person can actually be held responsible for some degree of the abuse due to a lack of securing their account. Passwords should only be shared with trusted adults (teachers and parents).
- Log out! Similar to the previous item, leaving your account active on a computer that can be accessed by others is just as bad as sharing your password. And in fact, it can be worse because the person who finds your account might be able to change your password out from underneath you and lock you out of your own account. If you ever do come upon a computer that is already logged into an account, do a quick look around for the person and if you can't find them, you will be doing them a favor by logging them out.