New York, NY, April 14, 2020 --(PR.com)-- During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in kids and teens usage of digital platforms for personal use and for online learning. With the increased usage of digital devices and social media apps, students who are prone to being bullied in school are likely to now be cyberbullied. Although cyberbullying has been around for a long time, we’re living in unprecedented times and when kids are stressed out and bored the opportunity to cyberbully is appealing.
According to STOMP Out Bullying in normal times, 5.4 million children are afraid to go to school every day for fear of being bullied. “Imagine all those children that are now being home schooled online and afraid to sign into their accounts due to the same reason,” said Ross Ellis, founder and CEO of STOMP Out Bullying. “Children who have more free time on their hands may find additional screen time attractive and cyberbullying can become one of their activities.”
In a new poll released by UNICEF and the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, one in three young people in 30 countries said that they have been a victim of online bullying, with one in five reporting having skipped school due to cyberbullying and violence. In 2017, the CDC reported that 15.5% of high school students were cyberbullied. Additionally, the percentages of individuals who have experienced cyberbullying at some point in their lifetime nearly doubled (18% to 34%) from 2007-2016, according to Patchin & Hinduja, the Cyberbullying Research Center, 2016.
Hinduja provides a number of suggestions for educators on cyberbullying:
In your online learning platforms and environments, set expectations and standards immediately and clearly for respectful behavior among your students.
Determine exactly what consequences you can implement for rule violations, and make sure they have a deterrent effect on your students.
Keep close tabs on all online interactions and encourage your students to send you screenshots or screen recordings of any rule violations they see to help you investigate and facilitate takedowns of problematic or abusive content.
Model and reinforce positive peer interactions in all venues where online interactions can take place.
Keep in touch with all of your students on a regular basis and remind them that you are there for them if they need help, support or advice.
Most importantly, keep in touch with those few you know who need a deeper connection, encouraging words, and/or accountability.
“With so many parents stressed out having to be on 24/7 with online learning while trying to keep their full-time jobs, they are exhausted and may not be paying attention to what their children are doing online during non-school hours,” adds Ellis, “Educators can only do so much from distance learning to help children navigate the waters of cyberbullying, parents need to also be vigilant to signs their children are being cyberbullied.”
Cyberbullying warning signs from STOMP Out Bullying
· A change in eating habits and sleep patterns.
· Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem.
· Increased physical complaints (headaches, stomach upset, etc).
· Kids and teens experience self-destructive behaviors such as self-harm or talking about suicide.
Tips on what parents can do from STOMP Out Bullying
· Learn the Internet. In other words, speak the lingo and know the game!
· Children should be taught that if they wouldn't say something to someone's face, they shouldn't say it to them online, through texting, or posting in any other way.
· Explain that cyberbullying is harmful and unacceptable. Discuss appropriate online behavior and make it clear that there will be consequences for inappropriate behavior.
· Communicate with your children. Let them know that it’s okay to come to you if they are being cyberbullied, digitally harassed, cyberstalked or if they’ve been approached by a predator.
· Keep close tabs on all online interactions.
· Be sure to keep your home computer(s) out in the open, such as a family room or kitchen.
· Install parental control filtering software and monitor your child’s computer. Tell your child that you are not spying on them, but you may review their online communications if you think there is reason for concern.
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