For better or worse, mobile devices and social media are an intrinsic part of being a teenager in the 21st century. Today’s teens spend a significant amount of time on the internet, and much of their social lives revolve around having access to text messages or social media. This isn’t an entirely bad thing, but it does create new risks that didn’t exist before. One of the most potentially dangerous of these risks is cyberbullying—the use of online platforms to threaten, harass, or torment. At Sage Day therapeutic schools, we have seen the profound negative effects that cyberbullying can have on teenagers, and we understand the need to educate students, teachers, and parents on how to combat it.
What Is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying can come in several different forms, but, at its heart, it is the use of online platforms to torment or harass a victim. This can include:
- Posting threatening or embarrassing messages online where the victim and/or their peers can see them.
- Sending threatening or demeaning text messages to the victim, or bombarding them with endless text messages in order to disrupt their life and make them feel unsafe.
- Revealing a victim’s sensitive personal information online, or threatening to reveal said information.
- Sending texts or messages to others with the intention of smearing or embarrassing another student.
Like “normal” bullying, cyberbullying is used to ostracize and punish the victim for perceived breaches of proper social behavior, to establish dominance over peers, or as a form of hazing, and, as with any other type of bullying, its purpose is to make the victim feel unsafe and out of place, disrupting their ability to have a normal social life. This can lead to social withdrawal, depression, anxiety, and other serious mental health issues that can interfere with a teen’s life and academic performance.
The first step in fighting cyberbullying is accepting that it is real, and that its effects can be devastating. Because it takes place online, teenagers and adults alike often brush off the impact it can have. Despite the fact that it does not take place face to face, cyberbullying is just as harmful as physical bullying.
Some of the steps that can be taken to combat cyberbullying are:
- Learning to see signs that someone is being cyberbullied (social withdrawal, sudden reluctance to go online, unwillingness to go to school, etc.).
- Encouraging teens to report when they are being cyberbullied.
- Teaching children from a young age how to treat people online, and explaining clearly why cyberbullying is not appropriate.
- Taking meaningful action against teens who engage in cyberbullying.
- Offering support to teens who have been the targets of cyberbullying.
After being the victims of cyberbullying, some teens require counseling to help them recover. In extreme cases, a cyberbullying victim may even need to change schools to help them escape their tormentors and feel safe among their peers.
To learn more about Sage Day therapeutic schools, contact us today at 877-887-8817.