Breaking Down Cyberbullying and Its Prevention

Cyberbullying Prevention

June 18th is Stop Cyberbullying Day. It’s a time for all of us to shine a spotlight on the problem of cyberbullying while continue to work to stomp out bullying every day. Sometimes it’s good to start at the beginning and look at the roots of cyberbullying. Before the world went online, children worried about being bullied at school, on the playground, or in the park.

However, today’s bullies have access to mobile phones, computers, gaming consoles, and other technology. This has led to the rise of cyberbullying, and this type of digital abuse can have far-reaching, devastating consequences.

Let’s take a closer look at it and how to prevent it from happening.

Tactics Of Cyberbullies

People who haven’t experienced cyberbullying might think it begins and ends with mean comments on the victim’s Facebook profile or nasty text messages. Those are a couple of tactics used by cyberbullies, but there are many more.

These are the most common ways in which bullies attack people online:

  • Posting hateful, nasty comments about someone’s body, ethnicity, gender, religion, race, socio-economic background, or other characteristics online
  • Posting embarrassing or hurtful comments about them online
  • Posting or sending them threats of violence
  • Posting comments or sending messages telling them to kill themselves
  • Posting humiliating or mean photos or videos of or directed at the victim
  • Creating a nasty fake profile, blog, or webpage about someone
  • Creating fake profiles to gain personal information about the victim and then posting or sharing that information
  • Creating fake profiles to spread false information about the victim
  • Doxing victims by posting personal information such as their full name, contact details, home address, credit card number, social security, and more

As you can see from these tactics, cyberbullies use electronic devices such as mobile phones to harass, mock, or threaten people intentionally and repeatedly. Victims will agree that the effects can be as hurtful and damaging as face-to-face bullying on the playground, office environment, or anywhere else.

Cyberbullying – The Characteristics

Cyberbullying differs from bullying that happens in person, and the tactics that cyberbullies use have certain characteristics.

These are a few of those characteristics:

Anonymity – Cyberbullying often is anonymous. Bullies hide behind fake profiles, which makes it more challenging to put a stop to them. Not knowing who is behind the abusive behavior can also make it more terrifying for victims.

Difficult to detect – It’s easier for parents to detect physical bullying. For example, mom or dad would notice if Johnny or Bailey came home from school with a black eye or a ripped shirt. It’s far more difficult to detect that a child is receiving threats online if they don’t say anything about it to their parents.

Cyberbullying is ongoing – The persistence of this type of harassment is a major factor. Rather than being limited to school hours, bullies can use their phones or other devices to attack or harass victims at any time of the day or night.

Attacks can be permanent – If others share posts made by cyberbullies, or if online content goes undeleted, their attacks can be permanent. Some social media platforms may delete abusive content if reported, but it can be impossible to track everything shared. Once something has been posted online, it’s difficult to delete it completely.

Cyberbullying can be far-reaching – Due to the nature of the internet and social media platforms, cyberbullying has a much bigger audience than bullying that happens face-to-face. Nasty posts made about someone online can reach thousands of people around the world in a few minutes.

Cyberbullying Has Serious Effects

According to UNICEF, victims of cyberbullying often feel as though there is no escape. Whether they are at home, school, or anywhere else, they know that the bully can strike at any moment. The constant threat of attack can have serious consequences.

Cyberbullying can cause stress-related physical problems such as tension headaches, stomach aches or stomach upsets, and sleep loss. It can also have an emotional impact by making the victims feel ashamed about the things they enjoy. And it can cause mental anguish by making victims feel angry, embarrassed, stupid, or upset.

Some victims of cyberbullying have been made to feel so ashamed, embarrassed, and upset that they’ve never spoken out. Of course, the bullying did not stop. It got so bad that the victims took their own lives in some situations because they could not deal with it any longer.

Parents and children need to understand that, as terrible as cyberbullying can be, it’s not the end of the road for the victim. They can regain their peace of mind and confidence again. This takes time and possibly counseling, but recovery is possible.

Cyberbullying Prevention Tips For Young People

Arguments between people happen from time to time, and they’re normal. However, if someone is repeatedly nasty to you for no fault of your own, it’s bullying. Don’t blame yourself for it, because no one deserves to be bullied.

Save the evidence of bullying. Whether the cyberbully sends text messages, posts on Facebook, or leaves nasty comments on Instagram, save the messages, download the videos, or take screenshots of the posts. Evidence may help authorities take action if you have to proceed with a bullying lawsuit to end the harassment.

Do not retaliate. Your upset or angry response may add fuel to the fire. If bullies know they’re getting to you, they’re likely to continue. If you know the bully’s identity, don’t retaliate in vengeance because that will turn you into a bully too. Instead, save the evidence and seek help.

Tell someone you trust. Even if it seems difficult or embarrassing, telling a parent, relative, friend, or teacher what’s happening can be one of the best things you can do for yourself.

Cyberbullying Prevention Tips For Parents

Follow or befriend your child on social media. This way, you can keep an eye on what they’re doing and what others are saying in response to them.

Educate your child. Tell them about not accepting friend requests from strangers, and warn against posting personal information and compromising photos online.

Be proactive. If you see cyberbullying taking place, report the posts – even if your child is not the victim – join the fight against cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying is one of the downsides of the digital age. Victims need all the support they can get, while bullies need to learn that good people will not accept their vile behavior.

The Art and Science of Storytelling

The Art and Science of Storytelling

Everyone has a story within them – the problem that many have is that they lack the tools and encouragement to do so. When you put together the right community and technology, everyone has the power to unleash their story. As Alice Walker the American novelist says, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

People have a habit of sharing parts of their story on social media to the tune of 7.5 million daily blog posts.

These posts include 1 million LinkedIn posts, and over 415 million posts on Facebook and Twitter.  Storytelling helps you achieve success: it makes any fact 22 times more memorable.

People that write down goals are 1.5x more likely to achieve their goals.  It also is not as time consuming as you might think, where only 15 minutes over 3 days can improve your mental and physical health.

The psychological benefits of writing include allowing you to heal by processing emotions faster than non-writing methods.  It’s easier to communicate difficult concepts and help you work on your communication skills.  Self-reflection is key – as British actress Emma Watson has stated: “I think your thoughts are so much less frightening when they’re tangible, when you can see them on a page in front of you.”

How can you get started? First, decide what to write about.  Build it up as a habit and start small – even 10 minutes at a time. It’s key to commit and make it a daily / several times a week habit. Daily journaling can also continue your positive habit forming process.

Daily habits and journaling aren’t enough to keep the process going.  Each writer needs support, guidance, and feedback from others in order to be successful. In addition, there are new technologies that have emerged that allow one to socialize writing. You can even create, protect, and sell personal content through these systems.  If you need help, there are private communities of writers to help you collaborate. Don’t hold your story in anymore, writing your story can help unlock your greatness.

The Secret Power of Telling Your Story

The Risks of Technology as an Aid in K-12 Education

Risks of Technology as an Aid in K-12 Education

There’s no escaping the fact that we live in a technologically enhanced age. This has had a significant effect across various facets of our society. For our children, it has become a constant presence not just in their social lives and family time, but also within their classrooms.

It’s certainly true that there are incredible benefits to this. The introduction of technology at an early stage of their development means that students are better prepared for its use in their personal lives, university, and the workplace. They are digital natives, after all, and these tools will play a key role in how they live, and their ability to contribute to society in a relevant and even innovative way.  However, it’s also important to understand that there are limits to the positive influence technology can offer. It’s not innately harmful, but there are potentially problematic areas.

We’re going to take a closer look at the risks of technology as an aid in K-12 education. Where can it drift from useful to problematic, and how can teachers and parents best respond?

Technological Reliance

One of the areas that concern parents and teachers a lot of the time when it comes to technology, is the potential for students to become too reliant upon it. While these tools will factor significantly in their lives, and some — like Google Workspace — straddle both educational and professional fields, they aren’t the be-all and end-all.

When addressing this, it’s important to take stock of how tech is used, rather than just declaring arbitrary limits. The internet of things (IoT), in particular, plays an increasing role in K-12 education. This ecosystem of connected objects helps teachers and students collaborate in the classroom and remotely, scan and share important documentation, and keep the curriculum organized and accessible for everyone involved. There are also innate risks in cybersecurity and costs, but being able to get a good idea of how far-reaching the benefits are helps us to be vigilant of potential overuse. We can see what elements of day-to-day learning and administration technology are used for, and make informed decisions about how to mitigate the risk of reliance.

This is where striving for balance can be a positive approach. Educators and parents should work together to assess which tools are being used in the classroom, which skills they’re providing students, and which abilities may be neglected as a result. If students primarily utilize search engines to research, are they also being provided with the skills to manually research in libraries or critically examine the credibility of their sources? If assignments are accessed and provided via the cloud, are teachers also introducing them to be proactive about finding alternatives should the system fail? Make it clear that these tools should support students in their endeavors rather than being the only options.

Health and Accessibility Problems

While we can consider technology a generally positive presence in schools, we also have to take into account its impact on students’ well being. There has long been some debate over whether incorporating technology into children’s lives can have adverse effects in this regard. While it is unlikely that the mere presence of technology in the classroom can be damaging, there are health risks that teachers, parents, and students should be aware of.

Among the most prevalent of these risks is directly related to screen use. In K-12 classes, there will be various types of screens that will be in use throughout the students’ day — laptops, television monitors, projectors, even smartphones for educational apps or during recess periods. Staring at screens for prolonged periods may be instrumental in causing or exacerbating vision issues in developing eyes. Teachers and parents should be watchful for the early signs of eye problems — squinting, poor attention spans, and persistent headaches are all common symptoms here. Where possible, they should limit the amount of time screens are in use during learning or encourage the installation of blue light filters.

Aside from causing health issues, technology may well be problematic for students that already live with accessibility challenges. As such, schools and teachers need to consider whether the tools they are using can be operated by all students. This should include compatibility with assistive technology, but also extend to whether websites are designed for accessibility. Can they be read by screen reading software? Is there a contrast ratio of 4.5:1, which is the minimum recommended under web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG)?

Privacy and Social Issues

There is a lot of uncertainty about whether technology impacts kids’ social development, but it does open them up to developing or being subjected to detrimental behaviors. Among the most common of these is cyberbullying. This isn’t just concerning from the perspective that bullying can be undertaken anonymously and subject students to disruptive and dangerous abuse. When there is technology in every facet of their lives, including in the classroom, the student can feel as though these attacks are relentless and inescapable. Not only do teachers and parents need to be vigilant for the signs of cyberbullying, there must also be a focus on ensuring the classroom can be a safe space away from it.

Aside from the prospect of bullying, there is the potential for students’ privacy to be impacted, too. Every time students interact with applications and websites there is the potential for their personal and behavioral data to be collected, shared, and sold. Sometimes this is undertaken legitimately by businesses, at others it may be stolen by cybercriminals. This opens them up not only to targeting by advertisers, but also potential fraudulent use of their identities. If technology is to be used in the classroom, there must also be an emphasis on teaching safe behavior, and how to protect themselves against these risks.

Conclusion

Technology is an essential tool for K-12 students, as it plays such a central role in their lives. However, it is important to be fully aware of the various risks involved. Teachers and parents must work together to help students understand these, and be provided with the tools and knowledge to better mitigate the potential negative consequences.

5 Amazing Activities to Keep Your Kids Entertained

Paint by Numbers for Kids

Keeping your kids entertained is not an easy task, especially with the limited movement we have had recently. There are however many ways to keep your children entertained while supporting their development, and these can take place at home.

If you’re fresh out of ideas, here are 5 ways in which you can keep your kids entertained at home while creating fun activities for the whole family!

1. Arts & Crafts

Arts and crafts are a fantastic way to keep your kids entertained while also developing essential skills. When children paint, it improves their dexterity as they are being mobile and using their muscles. Particularly in infants, development occurs both mentally and physically as the actions stimulate their brain.

Using painting by numbers techniques is fantastic for older children. The smaller sections require additional focus and dexterity, honing their fine motor skills. It is also a fantastic way to get them to unwind and remove themselves from technology, connecting with reality.

There is a large scope for painting with kids as the limitations of their work are that of their imagination. It’s important to encourage the use of different materials, textures, and tools to let creativity take over. Encouraging this level of creative freedom is essential when it comes to neurological development.

2. Sound & Music

Music is a sensory experience, much like taste, touch, and sight. If you have the willpower to endure the noise, music is a fantastic tool to support children’s development. It’s important to expose children to music for several reasons, all of which develop cognitive function and support learning.

For younger children, listening to music is significant in helping them distinguish sounds and noises. As they then listen to lyrics, they hear familiar sounds which they can distinguish into letters and words. The repetition of hearing sounds through speech, through music and books, will solidify their learning and understanding as they grow.

Music should be created, not just listened to. When your kids are older, it’s important to introduce them to instruments. These include a piano, drums, guitar, or even their own voice. Playing with instruments is a way to unleash creativity and you can support the children with making their music. You never know, this hobby may turn into a passion and you could have the next musical star on your hands!

3. Puzzles

There are many levels of puzzles, from basic to advanced. Toddlers and young children are often exposed to simplistic puzzles in the form of putting a few pieces back together. These toys are fantastic for several reasons, they teach children to recognize shapes, hone their concentration and cognitive skills, and give them a sense of satisfaction when they are complete.

Puzzles are a fantastic way to keep children entertained as they get older as well. With the range of puzzles available, you are sure to find one on a subject that interests and intrigues your kids. From Star Wars to Bratz, Harry Potter to Fortnite, it’s a fantastic way to entertain them in a simple way.

The best part is, you can incorporate incentives into the process of puzzle making, in the form of a reward for finishing. When your children become advanced, you can purchase increasingly intricate puzzles, to keep them continually entertained.

4. Create a TV Show

If your kids love watching TV, a great idea is to get them to create their TV show. If you have an old cardboard box lying around or a spare sheet to create a curtain, you’ve just made them a stage to showcase their creativity.

Acting and drama are classic ways to support children with communication skills, boost their confidence, and get them to think outside the box. If your children have been watching TV shows, the chances are that they are familiar with the concept of acting and will have an idea of what to say and how to say it. This is particularly fun if you have multiple children, as they can all get involved!

So where do you start? You may want to give them some prompts if this their first time coming up with an idea. Here are some questions:

  • What is your TV show called?
  • Where is it set?
  • Who is the main character?
  • Who are the other characters?
  • What would the characters wear?
  • What would the characters say?

There are of course so many more questions you could ask to get their mind going but these are a great start. Also, don’t be afraid to get involved! Having your children explain and give direction is a great way to support their communicative skills as they have to explain what they mean. Most children love the shift in power with them being able to tell you how it’s done!

5. Time Capsule

A great way to entertain your children is to introduce the idea of a time capsule. If your children aren’t sure what a time capsule is, this is a good starting point to get them to do some research. On the other hand, if they’ve learned about it at school, it’s a good way to support their understanding through mirroring the activities at home.

The premise of a time capsule is to give your future self a snapshot of life in the past. The idea is to include significant events and personal experiences from the present so that you can reflect on these in the future. The concept is a great way to get your kids thinking about the world around them and reflecting on what they think is important.

When you create the capsule with your children, some tips are:

  • Get the whole family involved
  • Include a newspaper from the day
  • Have each person write an explanation for what they have chosen
  • Choose a date in the future to open it and stick to it

Time capsules are a great way to not only entertain your kids but the whole family. It’s a fantastic way to see what everyone thinks about the present and there is time to reflect on what you think the future will look like.


Does your child love to write?  Are they interested in how websites work?  Check out our 21 Blog Post Ideas for Kids Creating Their First Blog/