1 in 3 Internet users are youths. They have a wider access to the Web than any generation before, and with that, the potential for online cyberbullying has also become greater. With everything being online now – talking, texting, showing pictures – the platform for bullying has increased from the schoolyard to cyberspace.
According to a Connected Kids report, children aged 5 to 16 spend an average of six and a half hours in front of screens a day, doubled from three hours in 1995. If kids spend seven hours at school and then a further 6.5 hours in front of a screen, the time frame for bullies to strike has exponentially grown. Not happy to just contain bullying to schools, bullies are now able to strike anywhere at anytime with the connectedness of the Internet. A whopping 52 percent of students report being cyberbullied, which does not take those who do not report it into account. And out of these, 52 percent of kids do not tell their parents when cyberbullying occurs.
So what exactly is cyberbullying? It is any form of bullying that happens online or digitally. This usually is IMs, DMs, email, social media and social media apps like Instagram and Snapchat. There are many kinds of cyberbullying, but these are the most common types as reported by the ETCB.
- Harassment – This involves the sending of offensive and malicious messages to an individual or a group by a bully, and often this happened multiple times.
- Flaming – Similar to harassment, flaming is a type of public bullying that often directs harsh language or images to a specific person via emails, IM or chat rooms.
- Exclusion – This is the act of leaving someone, or singling someone out from an online group such as group chats, forums, or sites. The group then harass the one they have singled out.
- Outing – Outing is when a bully shares personal or private information, pictures, or videos about someone publically without their permission.
- Masquerading – This is a situation where the bully will ‘masquerade’ as someone to harass someone anonymously, or they assume someone’s identity to harass them.
So how does a parent protect their child from cyberbullying when they don’t even know when it’s happening to them? Parental control software and apps are the best way to safely monitor your child’s Internet usage, such as their social media, and their texts and calls. They allow you to see what your child is receiving, and should it be something harassing some let you block certain numbers.KidGuard’s free parental control software for iOS is fantastic for finding signs of cyberbullying and stopping it while being noninvasive. It allows you to view call logs and texts, their online activity with a notable ability to be up-to-date with Snapchat (an app notorious for being a send-and-delete mode of communication), and other applications they are using on their device. It is a free, easy software for any concerned parent. Of course, you should talk to your child should you suspect they are being cyberbullied in an open and safe way as well.