Bullying, unfortunately, is not anything new; however, the constant access students have to each others’ personal information is. With constant, disruptive text messages, hacked Facebook accounts, and offensives tweets, it’s tempting to place the blame on technology and ban it altogether from classrooms. However, experts say that powering off is not the answer; rather, we need to empower our students to be good citizens—on and offline.
FIrst of all, students need to be educated about cyberbullying. Many are unaware of where the boundaries are drawn between harmless jokes, teasing, and cyberbullying, leading to under-reporting and stagnating conflict resolution. Help your students better understand what cyberbullying is by initiating a conversation in your classroom. Ask a couple of thought-provoking questions, share experiences, and try to get the students as involved as possible. As they answer questions, discuss, and ask questions they will come to the conclusion themselves about the dangers of cyberbullying. However, if they are bored, they might just jump right back on their phone.
This conversations should help students understand the consequences of cyberbullying. Online interactions remove a feeling of responsibility; making us prone to do or say things that we never would in person. However, if students are educated about the dangers of cyberbullying, they can cultivate an “online conscience.” Empower your students by helping them realize the influence that their words and actions can have on others, and the responsibility that they have to use it for good.
However, this responsibility should not rest on teachers’ shoulders alone. Online etiquette needs to be taught in schools and at home. Update parents about the school’s initiatives and what they can do to improve their student’s learning and internet use.
Technology is not simply an important influence in children’s lives, but as co-director of the Cyberbully Research Center stated: “...it is their lives.” Tech-centered schools and workplaces are already the way of the world today, so it is our duty as teachers and parents to help them enter this constantly-growing world, courteously and graciously.