Cyberbullying is a timely dinner conversation idea for families of all ages. Did you know that according to Statistics Canada, one in five young Canadians is cyberbullied or cyberstalked? As a Mom to teenage girls, this is a conversation I re-introduce and re-visit often.
Cyberbullying is defined as an aggressive act – such as embarrassment, humiliation, threats, stalking, or harassment – targeted at an individual or group of individuals through digital means. It comes in many forms, can happen on any device or through any online platform (e.g. social media sites, video games, private messaging, etc.), and can be committed by someone known or unknown.
Bookmark this site as your go-to cyberbullying resource: www.primus.ca/cyberbullying.
When I was a teen, my Mom overheard my phone calls (remember landlines and the central phone in the kitchen attached to a wall?). She didn’t overhear on purpose. It was just…the phone was in the kitchen. But with mobile phones and laptops, parents don’t overhear conversations or social shares. It’s silent.
Which is why I’m so glad cyberbullying is an open topic in our house. Yes, I’ve heard directly from my daughter about nasty group chats that quickly become ALL vs. ONE. I’ve also heard about friends sending bra pics. And once about an adult male sending a “hey baby” DM to her.
When cyberbullying happens…
…embarrassment, humiliation, threats, stalking, or harassment…
As a parent, you never want it to impact your child, or for them to be a silent witness – or heaven forbid – the bully.
To help recognize and repel online attacks, national communications provider, Primus, and Canada’s authority on bullying, PREVNet, have launched a new website that serves as an essential resource for parents, children and schools seeking information and guidance.
PREVNet notes that, in some cases, cyberbullying is more emotionally damaging than traditional schoolyard bullying. This is due, in part, to the permanency of digital information: comments posted online live forever, so victims of cyberbullying may be exposed to and can relive their trauma again and again. Also, 24-hour access to technology means that harassment can be impossible to escape, even when seemingly safe at home.
Accessible anti-cyberbullying tools
That’s why it is invaluable for parents to have easy-to-navigate resources to help combat cyberbullying. For me, awareness (for both my kids and myself) is most important.
We would all like to think our kids use their phones, tablets, and laptops for homework, music and games. But technology is so much more. It’s a window that can allow cyberbullies into the lives of our kids (even when they are safe at home).
I know it’s hard to get kids to talk. I try to read my kids’ body language, recognize if they are sleeping too much or too little, check their overall mood (OK, my teenagers are generally moody…aren’t they all?! Just remember there is “average” moodiness and “extreme”), and always check in with a light “how was your day?” every day.
Disclosure: This post is in partnership with Primus.