The technology of today allows users to become more connected much more quickly.
Communication is global, occurring at breakneck speed in every recess of the world on web sites, cell phones, blogs, social networks, and online radio.
The same media now are being utilized as an avenue for bullying, or cyberbullying. In our prior, less technologically-advanced society, children were taunted and bullied on playgrounds and in school hallways, fortunate to a degree to have the safe haven of home in which to return. Nowadays, with computers in most homes, the bullying continues via social networking sites (i.e. Myspace), instant messaging, and e-mail. Worse yet, the bullying is becoming easier; one can harass with some degree on anonymity allowing victims and victimizers alike the ability to abuse from the safety of their homes.
According to one poll, 42% of children have been bullied online, and one in four has been bullied more than once. We are beginning to see the effects of this as more children are breaking under the harassment and turning to violence and self-injurious behaviors due to the onset of depression and low self-esteem.
There are two primary methods of prevention – technology and society.
Technological preventions rely on software programs that can be loaded on a computer to monitory and/or filter internet traffic. These solutions are short-term and only serve as a band-aid in regards to solving the problem. If software is not installed properly, it will not serve its purpose, and it is limited to the computer in which it has been installed. It does not prevent children from accessing sites freely when at a friend’s house, library, school, etc. Furthermore, there are now even websites that walk users through a step-by-step process to disable such software.
Individuals and society as a whole are the best means in which to prevent cyberbullying. Becoming educated and more aware of this fairly new phenomenon allows the communication process to function more smoothly. We must bridge the technology gap that exists between children and adults due to children gaining access and becoming proficient with various technologies at such early ages.
Prevention = Communication + Education
Prevention: to keep from happening or existing
The prevention process should have already begun as children start using computers as early as age 3. Prevention of cyberbullying and internet safety begins with becoming educated and communicating with your children.
Communication: a process by which information is exchanged between individuals
Creating an open, two-way dialogue with children so that they feel comfortable speaking to you about difficult, awkward, or embarrassing situations is essential. Asking questions and being an active listener is critical as well as not appearing judgmental throughout the course of conversations. Perhaps most importantly, parents need to be educated on the topic to which they are speaking and need to seek out avenues in which to gain such insight.
Education: to develop mentally, morally, or aesthetically especially by instruction.