The penetration of digital platforms like communication and social media applications is rapidly proliferating among users irrespective of the age demographic. The usage of applications like snapchat, twitter and dating apps such as tinder are becoming popular not just among adolescents but has also caught the fancy of teenagers aged 18 and under. Though these digital applications facilitate real-time communication and provide a solution for keeping us in touch with our relatives, family and friends, there is a stigma attached to their misuse. This concern pertains to the increasing instances of online bullying.
Cyber Bullying: The Online Harassment
Many of us have undergone bullying in one way or the other, either in school, playground, family get-togethers or in offices. This can be in the form of public humiliation or harassment in isolation. Cyberbullying, on the other hand, is being victimized on the web. This kind of harassment happens mainly through the internet and through smartphones that are integrated with the internet of things. Though bullying has been there in existence, the internet has only added to its woes.
Cyberbullying can be characterized as either sexual or psychological. While sexual bullying can be in the form of sexting or involves sharing explicit pictures and videos and may even relate to encouraging children to get into sexual advances; psychological bullying, on the other hand, is when someone mocks, humiliates and spread false rumours online.
Children: Most Victimized Online
Over the internet, videos, pictures, games and applications get viral at an instant. This has made some of the applications and games popular among children especially teenagers. According to researchers, cyberbullying victims are more likely to be a teenage girl at 50.7% as against the male victims at 49.3%. The study also advocates that kids who develop a knack for using technologies and internet are highly likely to undergo cyberbullying. Further, many research studies have concluded that teenagers in the range of 12-14 are most bullied.
Cyber Bullying Online Gaming
Children addicted to online gaming spend most of their time online. However, though many of us consider this as a fun activity, this is one of the biggest mediums where cyberbullying mushrooms. Games such as consoles, play station and computer-based online games allow the player choose a partner they want to play with. Online games let people create a fictional character and anonymous avatars. This leads to developing alter egos and sometimes people start using harsh words to undermine the opposite player.
Signs of Cyberbullying
If your child is glued to the chatting application for more than the usual times, then it might e the case that he is engaged with a bully or is subject to some kind of blackmail.
Hiding or locking phones
If children make efforts to hide their phone or lock their personal gadgets from parents then this might be a suspicious case and proper monitoring of the child’s internet usage is required.
Children have the tendency of being friends with anyone and everyone if it a case with your child, then parents can go ahead and question about the new friend. Besides, there are many other signs that can give hints about the child being involved in cyberbullying.
Risks Awareness for Parents
For parents looking out for steps to guard children against cyberbullying, following recommendation needs to be looked into-:
Social media application has several benefits, but harmful content that gets populated needs to be screened. Putting family filters is the way out.
The applications have a privacy setting that is sometimes disguised and personal information goes out to the public. Bullies get access to the information and use it against us. Parents need to control and set the settings to prevent misuse.
Live-streaming is another feature that has gained wide prominence, but for children, this is not appropriate as this might be misused to see bullying videos, pornography, suicide attempts and many harmful videos.
The GPS technology though has proved to be useful as it provides real-time information about the location, the same proves to be harmful to teenagers. The location setting can be turned off so that bullies do not get an idea about the location of the target victim.
There are applications that hide the identity of the person calling on the phone, children’s sometimes resort to such tactics and parents may not know who they are talking. Preventing children from using the same is the way out.