Teens use the internet as much and in many similar ways as adults, and it can be a great source of entertainment and knowledge for them.
For many teens the internet has become a magical entity capable of answering obscure questions, streaming movies and videos of pretty much anything they want. It is also a way for teens to socialize with friends, even if they no longer live in the same city or state.
Unfortunately, this amazing magic land also has a dark side that is cause for concern, especially in cases involving interacting online with strangers, downloading illegal copies of movies and music and misusing the internet for personal gains.
However, an increasing trend among some internet users is the aspect of cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying occurs when a child or teen uses the internet to access chat-rooms or other digital media to harass, threaten, or humiliate another child or teen.
Unlike traditional bullying, cyber-bullying does not require physical strength or face-to-face contact and is not limited to just a handful of witnesses at a time. Cyber-bullies come in all shapes and sizes — almost anyone with an Internet connection or mobile phone can cyber-bully someone else, often without having to reveal their true identity. Cyber-bullies can torment their victims 24 hours a day and can even follow their victim anywhere so that no place, not even home, ever feels safe.
The victims of such bullies may experience hurt, anger, helplessness, isolation or may even have suicidal thoughts leading to several other problems.
Instead of giving way to such bullying tactics, a victim should do the following:
- Save every possible evidence: Keep any abusive text messages or a screenshot of a webpage and then report it to a family member, teacher, or school counselor. If not reported, then such incidents often turn aggressive.
- Report any threats of harm: Any threats or inappropriate sexual messages should be immediately brought to the notice of the police.
- Be relentless: Cyber-bullying is rarely limited to one or two incidents. It is far more likely to be a sustained attack on you over a period of time. So, like the cyber-bully, you may have to be relentless and keep reporting each and every bullying incident until it stops.
- Prevent any form of communication: Block his/her email address, cell phone number, and delete them from your social media contacts. Report if it gets worse. Remember, you do not want to worsen the situation before it is too late.
If your child is the Cyber-bully: It can be difficult for any parent to learn that their child is bullying others, but it is important to take initiative to end the negative behavior before it has serious and long-term consequences for your child.
If your child has responded to being cyber-bullied by employing their own cyber-bullying tactics, you can help your child find better ways to deal with the problem. If your child has trouble managing strong emotions such as anger, hurt, or frustration, talk to a therapist about helping your child learn to cope with these feelings in a healthy way.
Whether you are the abused, the abuser, or a concerned friend or family member, it is always important to know that there is help available.