Sanjit Chatterjee, CEO - Telecom Roaming Services, REVE Group
Harassment has different forms out of which bullying is quite a common one. The advent of internet technology has shown a tremendous contribution towards this dark activity. Today bullying is no more confined to schools and playgrounds, children connect each other via social media, instant messaging and several other platforms on the internet. Stories about online harassment from known and unknown make headlines every now and then. If we look up at the numbers, about 80 percent of all high school students have encountered being bullied in some fashion online (Bullying Statistics).
Why & How Cyberbullying happens?
Among school-going children or college-going teenagers, a few major factors that lead to bullying are jealousy, hatred, revenge, etc. Social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and instant messaging like SnapChat has made it so easy for everyone to troll and impersonates anyone. A few popular ways used by online bullies are as under:
● Sending rude, mean or abusive messages or threats to the target through email or text
● Spreading rumours to damage one’s image via social networking websites sites
● Stealing someone’s account information to break into their online account and send inappropriate messages to others
● Sharing someone’s Photoshopped images or sending inappropriate messages using look-alike profiles leave the victim embarrassed and disappointed. As per stats, 72 percent of children reported that they are cyber bullied because of their looks, followed by 26 percent of victims are chosen due to their race or religion and 22 percent because of their sexuality.
Who is to be Blamed – Technology or Parents?
Technology alone cannot be blamed for the increasing cases of cyber bullying. Guidance from home and school plays a great role in the upbringing of a child. Ignorance by parents towards their child is equally responsible.
Parents, especially those who are working, find little or no time to devote to their child’s well-being. Nanny’s and caretakers are the ones who look after their child. Amidst all this, the internet becomes the kid's ‘all-time-buddy’ and all they love is to play online games, chat with friends and do social networking. However, they are not aware of the devastating consequences linked to the internet.
Bullying is Never OK - Putting an End to Bullying
It is shocking to see that 52% of teens who are being bullied do not tell their parents about it. Parents are the primary educators of children. They need to figure out if their child has recently developed any behavioural changes like isolation, depression, etc. Such changes should not be taken lightly as consequences can lead to hurting oneself physically. Take note of the following points:
● Never ignore if your child asks for some help
● Always listen to the child patiently, they might take time to explain things clearly
● Your response should be thoughtful and considerate
Tell your child to share if he is being abused or harassed by someone. Explain to them that they should not hide such instances and that strict action must be taken against the bullies. At the same time, make your child understand that they themselves should not respond to a bully, rather they should inform a trustable adult like parent and teacher.
Make an Agreement for
Putting a check on how much internet your child browses can control his involvement in any wrongful activity. Discussing the use of internet for information gaining and its adverse impacts because of the wrong usage with your child is important.
Help them Secure their Online Information
While you cannot completely restrict your child from the internet, it is important to help them ensure information privacy on the web. Sharing pictures and other sensitive data over the internet is as easy as ABC but when such information goes viral, it can be damaging. Educate your child about the usage of privacy settings on social media and instant messaging platforms. This will help them control and keep a check on who can access their data.
Use Online Parental Controls
Being a parent of the digital world, you need to act smart. Besides educating your child, you should make use of advanced internet parental control tools to monitor your child’s cyber footprints. This helps you to keep a tab on the type of content your child browses on the web without their knowledge.
Whenever you are informed by your child about a situation of bullying, do not respond aggressively. Be patient and contact the appropriate local authorities as they can deal with the situation in a better way.
The Bottom Line
The striking levels cyberbullying are a strong signal for parents to gear up and act. In order to ensure the safety of your child, parents should maintain a healthy relationship with their little one. Simultaneously, proper guidance and monitoring are required to ensure that your child is on the right path and safe from online threats.