Today’s Teens & Cyberbullying

By: Amy Williams, Guest Contributor 

As a parent, what do you fear most?

Do you anguish about choosing fabric or disposable diapers? Are there times you fret over which educational toy to purchase or the number of hours your child should sit in front of a screen? Is this organic? Yes, you may have stressed over these and other topics too.

Unfortunately, for many families, the list of concerns could go on and on forever.

In today’s world, it is common to worry about providing the best childhood for your offspring. Often times our misgivings are unwarranted, but on occasion we do have a reason to be uneasy. Lately, there have been a lot of horrific stories about cyberbullying filling the headlines and conversations over the airwaves.

Cyberbullying By The Numbers

Cyberbullying is a new epidemic facing the youth of today. According to recent bullying statistics, the evidence is mounting that something needs to be done to snuff out this problem.

Here is a compilation of heart wrenching data from a 2014 study:

  • 25% of teens claim to have experienced repeated bullying over cellphones or on the Internet
  • 52% report being cyberbullied
  • 11% of adolescents report embarrassing or damaging photographs taken without consent
  • 33% of teens reported that bullies issued online threats
  • 10% of all middle school and high school students have been on the receiving end of ‘hate terms’ hurled against them
  • 55% of all teens who use Social Media have witnessed outright bullying
  • 95% of teens who witnessed bullying on social media report ignored the behavior…
  • More than half of young people surveyed say that they never confide in their parents about cyberbullying
  • 1 out of 6 parents are even aware of the intensity involved with cyberbullying
  • 80% of teens regularly use cell phones, making them the most popular medium for cyberbullying
  • About half of young people have experienced some form of cyber bullying; among them, between 10 and 20 percent experience cyber bullying regularly
  • Boys are more likely to be threatened by cyberbullies than girls
  • Victims of cyber bullying are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem and to consider suicide as a result

Keeping Children Safe

Growing up, if you were the target of bullying you were able to escape the damaging ridicule away from school. A victim could seek solace at home, the library, or with close friends.

Today’s children are surrounded by technology and many have constant connectivity with Smartphones, tablets, and home computers. Unfortunately, present day tweens and adolescents aren’t afforded that luxury. This makes the job of protecting our children even harder.

Listed below are a few tips to help curb Cyberbullying:

  • Encourage your child to friend only their “real” friends
  • Help set your child’s privacy settings
  • Add your child as a friend on social networking sites
  • 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

Moving Forward

Raising children doesn’t need to be daunting, but we can’t go through life with blinders on.

Cyberbullying may distress parents, but with proactive interventions and a little guidance we can all rest a little easier. Awareness is the first step to halting these behaviors and regaining some innocence back into your child’s upbringing.

Hopefully, tomorrow you will only need to stew over what to make for dinner.

 

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