Cyberbullying. It’s an ugly reality that children and teens deal with every day. Cyberbullying is when someone uses electronic or digital communication to bully someone. This usually happens through messages that are intimidating or threatening. Cyberbullying should always be taken seriously, particularly by educators. Educators have a great opportunity to help cut down on cyberbullies by helping their students learn to be kind and respectful, and watching how students are interacting to see if there are signs of bullying. They can also be a listening ear to help students who are experiencing cyberbullying find help.
If you’re a current or aspiring teacher, it’s extremely valuable to learn facts about cyberbullying. By knowing more about cyberbullies teachers can help prevent it and handle it correctly when it does occur.
Cyberbullying data shows that 36% of students say they have been cyberbullied. This means that likely thousands of students are being cyberbullied every single day. And cyberbullying can start at an extremely young age. Statistics show that children as young as 10 report that cyber bullying has impacted their life, and statistics also show it's common for cyberbullying to intensify between ages 12-17. It’s extremely valuable for teachers to understand how widespread cyberbullying is in order to help fight it.
The most common way that cyber bullying happens is through the internet. This can be on social media, email, or directly on the web. And statistics show that the more time they spend on the internet, the more likely they are to be bullied. The fact is that 88% of social media using teens say that they have seen something mean or cruel directed at a person through social media. Teachers who understand that cyberbullying often happens on mobile devices are able to regulate them better in the classroom.
Statistics show that girls are slightly more likely to be cyberbullied and face harassment than boys, and often have non consensual, explicit images sent to them, are involved in hurtful messaging, and have rumors involved in their cyberbullying. Statistics show that girls ages 15-17 have the highest percentage of cyber bullying, and this kind of cyberbullying tends to be name-calling, rumor spreading, and more. But it’s extremely important to note that both boys and girls can be victims of cyberbullying, and teachers need to understand how to help with prevention of cyber and traditional bullying for all students.
Over half of students who identify as LGBTQ+ have experienced cyberbullying, a much higher rate than students who are not part of the LGBTQ student community. Both students who are openly part of the LGBTQ+ community, and those who are not open with their preference may also experience cyber or traditional bullying. It’s extremely important for teachers to be able to support and help LGBTQ+ students who may be facing bullying issues online. The fact is that a teacher's behavior can directly help LGBTQ students who are being bullied. Teachers can work with parents to best know how to support students who are the victims of cyberbullying.
Once parents understand that there is cyber bullying going on, they are extremely likely to get involved to help stop it. Teachers who help parents get involved with cyber bullying are likely to see better results, and can even see prevention of online abuse moving forward. Parents are proactive to stop cyberbullying in many ways, including:
Monitoring social media apps to help children stay safe
Talking with their children about their feelings
Encouraging children so they know they are cared for
Connecting with the parents or teacher of the bully to address issues
Teaching children appropriate ways to respond
Helping children learn to stand up for themselves
Teaching children to be kind and respectful to everyone
Being an emotional support
Cyberbullying can have dramatic results, including depression and suicide amoung teens and young adults. There have been countless examples that we see of children who have been cyberbullied to the point of taking their own life. This is a horrific tragedy, and more teachers that are involved can help cut down on youth suicide due to cyberbullying. Teachers can help students find help, talk to friends, work with parents and counselors, and create an action plan that will help students who are the victims of bullying.
Instagram is the leading social media platform for cyberbullying. This app is extremely popular among teens and youth, making it an accessible platform for bullying. Instagram and other social media platforms have taken steps to prevent this kind of bullying, including reporting features and disallowing language that is inappropriate. There are also parental guides that parents can use to help make the app safer for children and teens.
90% of teens agree that cyberbullying is a problem for people in their age group, and 63% say that it is a major problem. While many teens agree that cyberbullying is a huge problem, it still happens every day. Teachers can utilize this sensitivity that many teens understand that cyberbullying exists and see it as a problem to help their students actively work to fight cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying can also appear in gaming, which is where many boys may actually be bullied. Chat features in gaming allow teens and young adults to send inappropriate and mean messages to others. Teachers need to understand that there are many avenues that cyberbullying can come from. This knowledge helps them identify safe activities for students to do in the classroom, and helps them understand how to intervene with students when necessary.
It’s not uncommon for students to not report cyberbullying, even if they know it is wrong. Both witnesses and victims may be hesitant to report cyberbullying. They may be embarrassed, concerned about the trouble it will cause, or be worried that bullying will increase if they talk about it openly. It’s vital for teachers to avoid victim-shaming—if a victim doesn’t report cyberbullying they shouldn’t get in trouble for that. Teachers can utilize empathy and create safe zones so students feel comfortable and confident confiding cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying usually doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Things that happen over the weekends online can carry into the classroom, and issues in the classroom may move online over time. Teachers need to be aware of bullying in their classroom and work to ensure that it isn’t happen on their watch, or after school hours as well. Teachers who strive to create an inclusive environment for students will be able to cut down on in-person and cyber bullying alike.
Teachers need to understand the different types of cyberbullying in order to help prevent and fight them. Some types of cyberbullying include:
It’s important for teachers to know what to watch out for so they can be an advocate against bullying.
From a young age teachers and parents can work to teach the proper online etiquette. When students know what proper behavior is online, they are less likely to become a cyberbully and are more likely to report it when they see it. Teaching online manners is an important step to making sure that students know the right ways to act when they interact online. Just like table manners, explanation and practice will help students know how to behave when using the internet.
Many kids are secretive about what they do online. If teachers think cyberbullying is happening, they should never assume that the parents know. Teachers need to work with parents to help determine what the action plan will be, and make sure they have the full picture that the teacher is seeing as well. Getting parents involved is important in helping fight cyberbullying.
Sexting, sexual messages that aren't consensual, and non consensual explicit images are extremely serious forms of cyberbullying. This kind of cyberbullying can also be illegal, so it is extremely important for teachers to share any concerns they have with administrators and parents. This kind of cyberbullying is becoming more and more common, so teachers have an important responsibility to teach students appropriate online behavior, and be there to help students who are struggling.
If you’re studying to become a teacher, it’s important to know that beyond specific teaching skills, there are many social elements you need to be prepared for. Learning more about cyberbullying can help teachers be better prepared to face it in their classroom.