Nowadays, it is almost impossible to find a teenager without a phone in their hand. Students today are more connected than any previous generation of students thanks to their smartphones and other devices. Amidst a sea of snaps, texts, and grams, they have almost limitless access to information that is just a click away. However, in addition to offering teens new ways to connect and participate in social networks, social media platforms, websites, applications, and chat services can also lead to cyberbullying concerns
In most cases of cyberbullying, kids who are bullied in school continue to be harassed online via social media, messaging apps, and other means. School officials may be under the impression that the digital world belongs beyond the scope of schooling or that it is not worth investigating. Even so, online abuse and harassment often have an even more detrimental effect on victimized people than in-person bullying, and yet are often ignored until it’s too late.
Bullying over the internet is in many ways different from bullying in person. The fact that it can occur almost anywhere at any time can make it seem harder to escape. The problem is also more difficult to detect since so much of the children’s digital media use is unsupervised by adults. Additionally, cyberbullying can also be very visible online, so a significant number of people can see it and even participate. Cyberbullies can hide their identities by posting anonymously or using pseudonyms, even though the target is typically exposed publicly. The cyberbully may not realize the implications of their action, since the bullying isn’t face-to-face.
It is important that we understand what children are doing and how they are vulnerable to cyberbullying, and we should teach them how to act when they are harassed, bullied, or trolled.
Parents and teachers are becoming increasingly concerned about cyberbullying. There are many different studies out there with varying statistics, but on average, kids spend more time online than ever before, so they might be more likely to experience bullying via random words typed into a computer screen rather than by someone in physical proximity.
How can you, as a teacher, make an impact? What can you do to create a culture that prevents bullying, but also implement interventions to prevent the behaviour from beginning?
As educators and socialization agents, teachers play an important role in promoting healthy relationships among students and preventing negative interactions. In some cases, teachers may not be aware of the victimization experiences of students during bullying situations even though students expect teachers to intervene. Here are 10 ways for teachers to stop cyberbullying:
- Educate students to be good digital citizens
Since the online world is a fluid extension of our physical lives, the rules that govern it should be the same as those that govern our real lives. Children need to be educated about social conventions and respect on the internet and learning how to use digital media for communication and interaction.
Ethics, morality, and respect should be incorporated into civic education and citizenship that goes beyond traditional boundaries. Other effective ways to get groups to work together are team exercises and activities. In such situations, every individual in the class is able to contribute to achieving the class goal to the best of their abilities, using their individual strengths and valuing each individual’s skills.
- Raise awareness
Powerful knowledge comes from awareness. Changing perceptions changes social behaviour. Awareness promotes a more positive environment, rather than panic or misunderstandings, over technology use. Educate your students about cyberbullying. Make students aware of the psychological and legal ramifications of the situation. Investigate issues such as online safety, technology risks, and positive online community building. Discuss cyberbullying cases that are age-appropriate and how they can be resolved. Describe ways in which technology is assisting your community members. Demonstrate ways students can use technology for their own benefit. An example of a new trend is the creation of an online managed space where classmates can shout out one another’s accomplishments or collaborate on class projects.
- Incorporate lessons on cyberbullying into your existing curriculum
Connect the content you teach with cyberbullying and schedule time to discuss it directly. With a little planning, it is possible to make connections between cyberbullying and everything from setting norms for online communications to using historical examples of propaganda or hate speech.
- Establish firm policies
There needs to be explicit instruction regarding technology, rather than assuming it. It is important that students are aware of policies in advance of problems. Establish clear boundaries. By establishing policies, it is possible to curb verbal aggression and establish it as a negative behaviour. In addition to being specific, policies should clarify any legal implications attached to certain behaviours.
- Encourage collective solidarity in reporting cyberbullying
According to Safe2Tell’s report, 81% of school bullying attacks were known to some students, but they decided not to tell anyone about it. Generally, silent children are afraid of becoming the next victim, as well as of facing punishment from adults. When this happens, children need to understand that the problem isn’t technology, but people who misuse it. In addition to promoting free flowing dialogue, creating a safe listening environment helps children who are experiencing abusive behaviour know who to turn to.
The platforms themselves are the best places to report online abuse, nevertheless. Every social network lets you report harmful or harassing posts, comments, and profiles. The only way to eliminate abusive content on social networks is by reporting, because if the profile or post has been reported repeatedly, it will be deleted.
- Monitor online activity
In contrast to ‘traditional’ bullying, cyberbullying has the advantage that you can monitor it and record it for proof. When moving completely offline isn’t possible, you can install parental monitoring apps. Social media activity, call logs, and general behaviours can be tracked through these applications. It is even possible to block a child’s phone and control it remotely. Simply put, know what they are doing online – when they are doing it and who is doing it with them.
- Know the apps and platforms
As a follow-up to the above, understanding how the apps work and how trolls and others might disrupt your students’ education is important for preventing cyberbullying. If you have never experienced bullying and don’t know how it works, then it’s difficult to help students navigate it.
- Establish a baseline
Studies by some researchers and programs recommend that schools give students anonymous School Climate Surveys to find out the extent to which bullying and other forms of misconduct are occurring. A red flag can be identified. An administrator may be able to identify and address problems based on this information. This is something you could do in your classroom.
- Teach cooperation
Assignments that require collaboration can be used to teach cooperation. Cooperative learning fosters students’ ability to compromise and assert themselves without demanding. Monitor the treatment of and by participants in each group and vary the grouping of participants.
- Involve parents
Early involvement of parents will enable best-practice teacher-parent partnerships to be cultivated. It is helpful for teachers to explain to parents the importance of overseeing their children’s online activities early and often. Making sure children know who they talk to and where they spend time online and offline is a very important precaution. It is necessary for parents to understand the policies, communication standards, and cyberbullying procedures for students in school and classrooms so they can be prepared if their child is cyberbullied or cyberbullied by someone else.
Educators, school administrations, camp staff, and community and faith-based staff are well suited to play a role in creating safe environments with positive social norms. Additionally, they may notice changes in children’s behaviour at school when making notes about other children, such as when a group or cluster of children becomes more aware of another child, or other signs of cyberbullying.
It is important to remember that although young people understand how technology works and how it is used, adults have a greater understanding of how it works in the real world. It is therefore vital to explore topics such as technological risks, operating safely on the internet, and appropriate online behaviour to encourage dialogue. Additionally, cyberbullying and bullying must be talked about openly, so that victims can seek justice. Educators must be clear and empathic and show open communication with their students in order to accomplish this.