Cyberbullying Destructive to Children

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The issue of cyberbullying and its impact on children and teens is growing
The issue of cyberbullying and its impact on children and teens is growing

Cyberbullying Has a Serious Impact on People

WASHINGTON DC – Cyberbullying has become a destructive force in many children’s lives. Most people, and parents underestimate the impact cyberbullying has on their children. The issue of cyberbullies and online attacks continues to grow as the Internet continues to gain in popularity. Often what happens online has also lead to poor behaviour away from the computer as well.

After multiple suicides by children being cyberbullied, parents, more than ever, need to be aware of their children’s online activity.

A recent paper published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication found that parents underestimate how often their children engage in risky online behavior, like cyberbullying and viewing pornography.

“Youth believe that social media is their turf and they are somewhat correct,” said lead author, Byrne. “Parents sometimes have no idea what their kids are doing online until it’s too late.”

Thumbs Down on Cyberbullying

Experts also find that there is a lack of understanding on what exactly is considered cyberbullying. Online postings that insult or attempt to harm people can greatly impact people. On Facebook, there are groups, often created as “Private Groups” where postings can be made in secret attacking or insulting people. The cyberbullies often feel it is “all in good fun”, or that what they do doesn’t have any impact on the people they insult.

It is a cowardly method of cyberbullying.

Sahara Byrne, Sherri Jean Katz, Theodore Lee (Cornell University), Daniel Linz (University of California – Berkeley), and Mary Mcllrath (C+R Research) surveyed 465 parent-child pairs on their children’s online behavior. They found that parents underestimate how often their child is a victim or perpetrator of cyberbullying, exposed to sexual imagery, and approached by strangers online. The disparity between these behaviors and a parent’s perception of the behavior increased when the parent executed a permissive style of parenting.

Parents can take direct steps to helping protect their children online by engaging in positive conversations about internet safety, moving the computer to a public place within the house, which works to varying degree depending on the child’s access to the mobile internet. The best step is to open a line of communication with children so parents can increase their awareness of their online behavior.

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