Cyber bullying & Negativity Online
There are some very difficult conversations happening online in the adult world right now. And despite being written words, many times these conversations feel more like shouting matches. They are loud, aggressive, and littered with insults. They are reaching millions of people around the world. And they are raising many questions about online behavior and cyber bullying.
At school and at home, it’s important to have conversations with children on these topics. In our family, the behavior expectations are the same online and offline: be true and be kind.
Here is some quick facts about negativity online and cyber bullying, including some of the ways we encourage true and kind behavior in our elementary and middle school children.
What is cyber bullying?
Many states have enacted laws aimed at preventing school bullying, including cyber- bullying and online behaviors. Very generally, bullying is consistent behavior targeted at a specific victim that causes her harm or disrupts the education process. Insults and harassing behavior are signs of bullying. Different states have different requirements for preventing bullying behavior.
Negativity online is not necessarily cyber bullying, but it does model some very bad behaviors that we, as teachers and parents, need to counteract.
How do you help your child identify bullying and manage negativity online?
Curate your digital experience.*
We cannot control other people and what they do or say online. But we can control our own digital experiences. One of my favorite aspects of social media is the ability to follow friends and family, and block unfriendly users. In our house, the Passwords are for Parents rule allows me to curate an online experience that is safe and friendly for our family. My daughter will likely hear about negativity online through the media – we cannot stand in line at the supermarket without seeing the headlines. But she will see love in our own digital space. Our family’s digital footprint is a space where she can feel safe and enjoy the benefits of positivity online.
Model Good Behavior.
The people that my daughter interact with most each day include our family at home and our family school. It is so important for the adults in our community to set good examples and model positive online behavior. This blog is full of ways to engage students in technology and role model healthy and positive digital footprints.
Have repeated conversations about bullying, negativity, and positivity online.
At its best, the digital world amplifies the voices of positive influences around the world. At it’s worst, it amplifies voices of negative influences. It is my job as a parent and as an educator to not only drown out the negative with the positive, instilling the values of truth and kindness, but also to empower my daughter and students to do the same. This happens both online and offline through ongoing conversations about the how we can be ambassadors of positivity.
I am one of the people that my daughter and my students interact with most throughout the week. As a result, I am in a unique position to drown out the negativity with positive messaging and ongoing conversations. I can turn off our social media feeds, log out of our devices, and allow us to be present in a positive and safe space. Often, the best thing I can do model good online behavior, is to go offline.
* You can read more about how to curate your family’s digital experience at my recent post: EdTech & Parenting Part 2: The Curator
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