Erica Cardenas

Prevent digital bullying

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Within the last decade, there has been an explosion of new technology. From smart phones to expanding social networking sites, these new technologies continue to be eagerly embraced by young people.

And while new technology has many potential benefits for youth, the recent explosion in technology does not come without possible risks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide some tips for parents and caregivers on how to protect your child from “electronic aggression.” 

Youth can use electronic media to embarrass, harass or threaten their peers. In fact, according to the CDC, increasing numbers of adolescents are becoming victims of this new form of violence. Research suggests that 9 to 35 percent of young people report being victims of electronic aggression. 

Electronic aggression is any type of harassment or bullying that occurs through e-mail, a chat room, instant messaging, a website (including social media sites and blogs) or text messaging.

A few examples might include disclosing someone else’s personal information in a public area (i.e., a website) in order to cause embarrassment, or sending mean, embarrassing, or threatening text messages or e-mails. 

The CDC and provide some helpful tips on preventing cyber-bullying:

Be aware of what your children are doing online.

  • Know the sites your kids visit and their online activities. Ask where they’re going, what they’re doing, and who they’re doing it with.
  • Ask to “friend” or “follow” your kids on social media sites, or ask another trusted adult to do so.
  • Encourage your kids to tell you immediately if they, or someone they know, is being cyber-bullied. Explain that you will not take away their computers or cell phones if they confide in you about a problem they are having.

Develop rules about technology use.

  • Together with your child, develop rules about acceptable and safe behaviors for all electronic media. 
  • Make plans for what they should do if they become a victim of electronic aggression or know someone who is being victimized. 
  • Help them be smart about what they post or say. Tell them not to share anything that could hurt or embarrass themselves or others. 

Connect with your child’s school. 

  • Work with the school and other partners to develop a collaborative approach to preventing electronic aggression.
  • Some schools have developed policies for technology use that may affect the child’s online behavior in and out of the classroom. Ask the school if they have developed a policy. 

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