Written by: Veronica Montanaro
“No body likes me….I can’t believe what my ‘so-called’ friends are saying about me”.
Bullying is not just physical- using technology to tease, embarrass and spread rumours are also bullying behaviours.
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying occurs when a student, or several students use technology to:
- makes fun of another student
- does not include him or her out of things in activities on purpose
- excludes him or her from their group of friends or completely ignores him/her
- calls him or her hurtful names
- spreads false rumors about him or her or tells lies
- sends mean texts and tries to make other students dislike him or her
These hurtful things can occur through:
- text messaging,
- pictures/photos or video clips,
- phone calls
- instant messaging or chat-rooms and
- social media websites.
Did you know?
98% of Maltese children between 8 and 15 years old have access to Internet in the home. Also within the same age group 56% have access to the Internet on their mobiles. Other statistics show that 41% of children between the ages of 8 and 11 have a Facebook account in their name despite the minimum age of 13 to register on Facebook. Do you know what your child is chatting to his/her friends about?
What can I do?
Set up the Vodafone Guardian Application. The app enables parents to stay in control in a number of ways, including:
- Blocking specific contacts or mobile phone numbers to prevent bullying text messages or calls
- Specifying times during which their child can make or receive calls, use apps, access the Web and use the camera
- Restricting outgoing calls to named contacts, such as mummy, daddy or specific friends
- Transferring bullying text messages to a secure folder on the phone that could be used as evidence with the child’s school or the police
What if I suspect my child is being cyber-bullied?
If your child tells you they’re being cyber-bullied, offer them practical as well as emotional support:
- Make the most of built-in tools on your child’s internet or mobile services (refer to ‘how to’ guides http://www.ibrowsesafely.com.mt/en/how-to-be-safe) to prevent further bullying- for example, you can remove the bully from their ‘friends’ lists and set your child’s social network profile to private, if it isn’t already.
- Reassure them that they have done the right thing by telling you what’s going on
- Explain that they should not respond to any of the bullying as it might make things worse
- Sit down with your child and make a written record of the cyberbullying and gather evidence, such as saving texts or printing out emails and screen shots of websites- don’t delete anything
- If your child thinks the cyber-bully is a fellow student, talk to their teacher and school. If you think a crime has been committed or if you’re worried your child is in immediate danger, contact the local police
What if you think your child could be a cyberbully?
- Talk to them about cyber-bullying and explain why it is unacceptable and has to stop
- Have an open discussion with your child- ask them why they’re doing it and listen to what they say
- If they didn’t realise that what they were doing was bullying, explain that bullying is not just physical– using technology to tease, embarrass and spread rumours are also bullying behaviours
- Reassure your child that you still love them but make it clear that their behaviour must change
- Encourage them to tell you or a teacher about any bullying they witness, including cyberbulling incidents
Vodafone has made Digital Parenting easier by putting together all their resources in an easily accessible website and Facebook page. Visit https://www.facebook.com/ibrowsesafely.com.mt for practical information and advice about how to take informed decisions and protect the delicate balance of online safety and mobile freedom.
The ibrowsesafely campaign is brought to you by Vodafone Malta in support of BeSmartOnline. http://www.besmartonline.org.mt/
For more information about cyberbulling read:
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