San Diego DUI Law Center

Parents’ Guide To Cyberbullying On Social Media

The rise of social media has given many people a voice and a platform to spread messages, photos and videos across cities, states, and even across the world in real time. Due to the lack of available buffers, there is a plethora of cyberbullying that is able to get out very quickly damaging the fragile self-esteem of young children and bring to light flaws and hurtful comments for the sake of power, recognition or humor. What is Cyberbullying? According to a government bullying site, this is a repeated aggressive behavior that includes threats, the spread of rumors, verbal abuse or the outward exclusion of someone to a group. By simply posting something on a social media site, young children are now able to take a rude comment or embarrassing moment and share it with their friends in groups and encourage others to quickly repeat the process. This creates a domino effect which can explode to hundreds or (in some cases) thousands of people within minutes. Before social media was invented, these situations were very short-lived; however, the internet allows for a young generation that has a far more difficult time escaping the situation. Bullying Going Viral Video sharing has had an explosive growth along with social media and has fueled cyberbullying on a whole new level. While exposure has led to disciplinary actions it still has long-term effects on young children. These videos create even greater exposure for these bullies and create a sense of unjust power over their victims – causing them further grief and mental anguish. Long-Term Effects The psychological effects of verbal abuse and exclusion at a young age can cause emotional problems and negatively impact the development of social skills lasting an entire lifetime if not treated. Not to mention the reputation of an adolescent which lives on indefinitely on the internet. Some of the worst cases have resulted in suicide. It is extremely important that any type of bullying is taken seriously and punishment is severe enough to change behaviors. Identifying Cyberbullying While bullying is a very serious issue it is still sometimes mistaken for humor. Imagine the short videos and memes that make you laugh and think about the person in the video or image. A large portion has been personal photos that have made their way online then hijacked by someone who may to demean children with special needs or take advantage of someone else’s embarrassing moment or disadvantage and turn it into a gross viral phenomenon across the internet. For parents, it is very important to monitor your children’s social media usage on a regular basis. Keep an eye on their friends and acquaintances to ensure that there is no foul play. The most important facet is to talk to your kids and ensure that they understand the importance of respecting others and what constitutes as bullying and the effects it can have on a person’s life. That being said, create an open dialogue with kids so they feel comfortable reporting standing up against bullying – whether they are the victim or someone else is being targeted. Bullying Resources for Parents How to Talk To Your Kids About Bullying Help Your Child Recognize the Signs of Bullying My Kids the Bully Adolescent Bullying, Relational Aggression, Stress and Self-Esteem Prevent Cyberbullying The Bully Project Kid Webisodes Stopping Cyberbullying How can we put a stop to cyberbullying? There is a long road to actually putting a stop to this type of abuse as more emerging social media platforms give new creative ways for children to be exposed to this type of behavior. Many states have taken action putting laws and policies in place to protect children. In addition, you can fight fire with fire and share one of the many excellent videos and PSA’s that paint bullying in a dim light. By spreading the anti-bullying message, you are educating people in masses on the effects it can have and exposing the behavior as unacceptable. Due to the unfortunate cases that have resulted in death or permanent harm, many people have recognized the need for creating viral anti-bullying videos and they are very effective at tugging at the heart strings and resonating with children to help them recognize bullying and not tolerate it and/or report it. Lastly, if you see something harmful, damaging or offensive online be sure to take all necessary precautions to stop the abuse:
  • Comment that the behavior is unacceptable and demand it be taken down
  • Screenshot it and send to the authorities
  • When applicable press the report button (available on some social platforms)
The worst thing that you could do is ignore the behavior. Remember by taking action you could be saving a child from permanent damage or even save their life. Resources on Cyberbullying Law State Policies and Laws Share-Worthy Anti-Bullying Videos Break The Chain Kids React To Bullying A Sincere Compliment Jonah Mowry: ‘Whats goin on…” Take A Stand- Anti-Bullying Video You Are Not Alone