Guest Blogger: Chris Jones
In a world where technology allows communication to be nearly instantaneous and virtually anonymous, a new type of inappropriate use has emerged – Cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is defined as:
- actions that use information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm another or others.
- use of communication technologies for the intention of harming another person
- use of internet service and mobile technologies such as web pages and discussion groups as well as instant messaging or SMS text messaging with the intention of harming another person.
Examples of what constitutes Cyberbullying include communications that seek to intimidate, control, manipulate, put down, falsely discredit, or humiliate the recipient. The actions are deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior intended to harm another. (Wikipedia)
Texting, email, social networks, and instant messaging are just a few ways that kids communicate today. It’s how they socialize and stay up to date with their friends. Sometimes they use these seemingly anonymous tools in a negative way to threaten or harass other kids. When this happens, what should teachers and school administrators do to end the bullying? When is it a good idea to intervene? When is it an obligation? When does it cross the line and become a legal issue?
The first line of defense for any school or district is to have a policy in place that addresses Cyberbullying, complete with descriptions of unacceptable behavior and clear consequences for breaking the rules. It’s also very important for schools to start teaching students about Digital Citizenship and what it means to be a good Digital Citizen in the 21st Century. Educators teach children to be better citizens and community members every day, but they have not been made aware of the need for instruction in Digital Citizenship. Kids need to understand that Cyberbullying is hurtful to others. Additionally, there may be legal action taken against them, civilly as well as criminally, that could have a lasting impact on their own future. It’s up to us to teach our future Digital Citizens what is and is not appropriate communication in the digital world.
Here is a poster to share with your staff on appropriate action steps you can take if you are informed about incidents of Cyberbullying. You can also find an informative “Guide to Response” chart at Common Sense Media:
Common Sense Media also offers a well-designed curriculum for teachers and administrators of students of all ages and grades. If implemented in Kindergarten and used every year through high school, a child will be exposed to a wide range of topics, including Cyberbullying, Internet Safety, Privacy and Security, Information Literacy, Digital Footprint, Self Image and Identity, and Copyright Infringement. Access the curriculum here:
Let’s make Cyberbullying a thing of the past. Together we can teach kids to be better users of technology, thus making them better citizens for the world.
By Chris Jones, ITO Consultant