There is more to cyberbullying than writing mean things about someone online. The intention of someone who posts something spiteful or embarrassing, may not know or recognize the impact that the post can create. Someone may think it’s funny or want to embarrass someone without the intent of being malicious, but that one time can be enough to hurt someone so badly that it can lead to horrific consequences. “One in three young people in 30 countries said they have been a victim of online bullying, with one in five reporting having skipped school due to cyberbullying and violence, in a new poll released by UNICEF and the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Violence against Children”. (UNICEF, September 3, 2019)
As adults, we can teach young people that when we post something, we must remember that those posts can have an effect on someone’s life. It can be tough explaining this to young adults or teens, and therefore we have come up with 5 strategies that you can use to help teach them that when they post something with intention, they may not get the reaction that they expect.
- One of the rules we were taught as children, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. This goes well within the digital age as well. Explain to your students or child that if you wouldn’t say something to someone’s face, do not say it online.
- Tell your students or child that what they say through a screen may not be heard correctly on the other side. Meaning that when we communicate with each other verbally we can hear each other’s tone of voice, have a better sense when someone is joking, playing around or being sarcastic. Through a screen, this is difficult to tell as you are only able to read the words. Your intention may be joking but the person on the other side of the screen may see “hear it” in a different tone or way.
- Teach your students or children to not react to a post emotionally. If there is something you see that makes you upset, stop walk away and take a breath. Try not to respond right away. Sometimes responding right away can add fuel to the flames. Next, talk to an adult about it. If it is bullying, harassment or anything of that matter let someone know.
- Teach your students or child to not post something when you are in an emotional state. We all get angry, and it is normal to have a disagreement with a friend and become angry but do not post about it online. It’s important to not post something online in a heightened emotional state. By doing so your intention of “releasing steam” can just cause drama or create a bigger problem. Find a healthy way to release that anger ie; a walk, a workout, or my favorite put on some music and dance it out.
- Talk to your students or child that when something is posted on social media it has been released into the universe and you can not take it back. You can’t backtrack on something that was posted, even if it was only up for a minute, especially in the days where anyone can screenshot something. Make sure that what you post is something that you don’t mind the world seeing or knowing that it came from you.
Wylie, H. (2019, September 3). In More than a third of young people in 30 countries report being a victim of online bullying. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/unicef-poll-more-third-young-people-30-countries-report-being-victim-online-bullying