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Cyberbullying: The Dark Side of the Internet

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Smartphones and technology can be used for a lot of good, but it is vital to be aware of how it can be used to sabotage a child’s development. Awareness is the first step to halting the aggression and being proactive can save a child from the debilitating consequences of online bullying. Hopefully, with a little education and awareness we can help make Cyberbullying another item to file away in our history books…writes Amy Williams

cyber computer child childrenWhen was the last time you sat down and wrote a letter? You know–a real letter–scribbled in longhand on stationery that had to be folded, stuffed into an envelope, sealed, and kissed with a stamp before it began it’s long journey.

In today’s technology-driven world, it often feels that the art of letter writing is an ancient memento. I imagine a stack of dusty letters sitting alongside rotary telephones and film cameras, patiently waiting to take their rightful place in a world history museum.

Smartphones Around The World

People are no longer corded to a wall or stuck penning correspondences–they are able to communicate by pushing a send button. It is estimated that around 80% of the global population has a cellphone, with about 1.08 billion of them being Smartphones. This means the world is connected at an unprecedented rate.

Here are the most common ways people use their Smartphones:

 

  • 92% like to use them for text messaging

 

  • 84% browse the Internet

 

  • 76% send emails

 

  • 64% play games

 

  • 59% check Social Media

 

  • 69% use downloaded apps

 

People are embracing technology and the convenience it offers. For many individuals, the conveniences of owning a Smartphone are too numerous to count. However, a lot of the younger members in society are facing a few serious issues as a result of 24/7 connectivity.

 

Cyberbullying is emerging across the globe as a relatively new problem. Bullying has always been prevalent in many cultures, but the onslaught of Social Media and the Internet has changed how bullies attack their victims. A lot of tormentors favor the anonymity and pile on mentality that the cyberworld provides.

 

Smartphones are quickly becoming the favored method used by Cyberbullies to barrage their victims.

 

Cyberbullying By The Numbers

 

Teens are often reluctant to bring up this topic to adults. It is estimated that 90% of teens will not report offensive or cruel posts and 70% will try to hide their online activity from their parent’s eyes. This taboo topic needs to be discussed to prevent irreparable damage to a child.

 

Examine these results from a global Ditch The Label’s 2013 study that questioned 10,008 people between the ages of 13-22 (of which 67% were from the UK, 17% from the USA, 12% from Australia and 4% from other countries):

 

  • 7 out of 10 young people have been victims of cyberbullying.

 

  • 37% young people have experienced cyberbullying on a highly frequent basis.

 

  • 20% of young people have experienced extreme cyberbullying on a daily basis.

 

  • Young people are found to be twice as likely to be bullied on Facebook than on any other social network.

 

  • Facebook, Twitter and Ask.FM are found to be the most common social networks for cyberbullying.

 

  • 54% of young people using Facebook reported that they have experienced bullying on the network.

 

  • 28% of young people using Twitter reported that they have experienced bullying on the network.

 

  • 26% of young people using pop Ask.FM have experienced bullying on the network.

 

  • Cyberbullying is found to have catastrophic effects upon the self-esteem and social lives of up to 69% of young people.

 

  • An estimated 5.43 million young people in the UK have experienced cyber bullying with 1.26 million subjected to extreme cyber bullying on a daily basis.

 

Tips To Curb Cyberbullying

 

Today’s children are surrounded by technology and many have constant connectivity with Smartphones, tablets, and home computers. They aren’t afforded the luxury of seeking solace at home, the library, or chatting with close friends. This makes the job of protecting our youth daunting.

 

Listed below are 10 tips to help curb Cyberbullying:

 

  • Encourage your child to friend only their “real” friends.

 

  • Help set your child’s privacy settings.

 

  • Friend request your child online.

 

  • Keep electronics in common areas.

 

  • If your child is a victim of cyberbullying through facebook, remind them that “this too shall pass”.

 

  • If you notice cyberbullying, document each post with screenshots.

 

  • If Social Media is becoming a problem, have your child wait until you can sit and read the messages together.

 

  • Interact sparingly with your child online. Observe at a distance.

 

  • Avoid posting embarrassing photos and comments regarding your child.

 

  • Instruct your child about social media etiquette.

 

 

 

Smartphones and technology can be used for a lot of good, but it is vital to be aware of how it can be used to sabotage a child’s development. Awareness is the first step to halting the aggression and being proactive can save a child from the debilitating consequences of online bullying.

 

Hopefully, with a little education and awareness we can help make Cyberbullying another item to file away in our history books.

@AmyKWilliams1

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