Bullying is a well-known, age-old societal problem, but our adoption of technology has given rise to new ways of causing harm: cyberbullying. Educating and empowering our students to be cyber smart and cyber safe and deal with painful emotions is vital for keeping them safe in a technological world.
Cyberbullying casts a dark cloud over the life of a child who experiences it. The inescapable, chronic and personal nature of cyberbullying can impact a child’s intellectual, physical and emotional health. Conditions such as anxiety, depression and stress-related disorders can develop or worsen. Cyberbullying can be so severe that victims may withdraw themselves, avoid school or social situations, or self-harm, and may even turn to suicide. Mood, behaviour and appetite changes, emotional distress, aggressive behaviour, low self-esteem, trust issues, and poor academic performance are all possible consequences of a child suffering from cyberbullying. If a child already suffers from low self-esteem, or has difficulty managing painful emotions, the effects of cyberbullying can be much more devastating.
Mobile phones, emails, chats, webcams, websites, social media… technology is integral to our lives, so while our instinct might be to separate students from the technology being wielded as a weapon, it’s not a reasonable solution (or a possible one!). The reality is that while students have internet access, they’re exposed to the risk of cyberbullying. So if we can’t take away the internet, where does that leave us?
Educating students about being cyber smart and cyber safe can empower them to identify, protect themselves from, and deal with cyberbullying. While we may never be able to stop cyberbullying entirely, we can use Being Cyber Safe and Cyber Smart – Student Workbook and Teacher’s Guide to help students recognise harmful behaviour, foster self-esteem, and provide tools and resources for removing themselves from a harmful situation and reporting cyberbullying to people who can help.
You can use the Taking CHARGE of my Rainbow of Emotions to coach your students on managing the painful emotions they may experience as a result of cyberbullying (such as sadness, anger or frustration), we can help reduce the psychological and emotional impact.
Former US President Barack Obama said “We’ve got to dispel this myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage, that it’s some inevitable part of growing up. It’s not.”