Can we talk about bullying for a minute?
Like, real bullying. Not kids being mean or rude or mildly inappropriate — which, don’t get me wrong, all SUCK. I’m talking about the kind of behaviour that systematically breaks down someone’s very being and leads to serious and sometimes long-term anxiety, depression, social isolation, substance abuse. And worse.
Now let’s apply that to the digital world: cyberbullying.
It’s a term we’ve all heard, right? Most of us know the tragic outcome of some of the more high-profile cases, like Amanda Todd. But maybe, like me, you don’t know about all of the different ways kids can be cyberbullied, or what tools are available to help parents start the conversation so we can do everything possible to raise kind humans and help prevent our own kids from being victimized.
Maybe, like me, you didn’t realize that 20 per cent of young Canadians are cyberbullied (or cyberstalked). I mean, that’s a big, terrifying statistic.
I don’t want my kids to be a statistic.
When I recently learned about an anti-cyberbullying initiative — which you can check out at cyberbullying.primus.ca — I spent some time looking through the website. It’s really good.
The first thing that caught my eye was the lingo. I’m 42, but I like to think that I’m pretty savvy when it comes to digital acronyms. Turns out, not so much.
I know my OMGs and WTFs, but I didn’t recognize these at all: DIRL (“Die In Real Life”) and IHML (“I Hate My Life”). So I clicked to learn more.
This led me to broader definitions of cyberbullying:
- Creating drama: starting unnecessary feuds with others
- Trash-talking: insulting someone’s skill or ability, usually in sports or during online games
- Catfishing: tricking someone into a relationship by making up an online identity
- Flaming: aggressive online communication used to show power
- Slamming: online harassment by a large group directed at one person
- Trolling and creeping: collecting information from online profiles that can be used to hurt someone
I plan to address every single one of them with my kids because on- or offline, they need to know that no matter where or how this kind of garbage goes on, that it’s wrong, and that it’s OK to talk about it if they see it happening or feel like it’s happening to them.
It’s great to see that this website — created in partnership between Primus and PREVNet — goes beyond definitions and scenarios, though. It actually provides useful tools that are in line with the reality of being a kid growing up in the digital age, like overviews of how kids use tech, as well as links that will help parents support a child who is engaged in cyberbullying and information about the current legal policies. Those are the kinds of things that I need.
Just because my kids are too young for Facebook or Snapchat doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be part of the discourse. Studies show that many kids who are bullied at school are also cyberbullied. So this is a concern for anyone with young kids, tweens and teens.
Reading through some of the site’s resources, I’ve learned that it’s not as simple as taking devices away. In fact, experts disagree with that strategy. It’s about educating our kids and ensuring they’re using technology responsibly, and encouraging them to trust us enough to tell us when something isn’t right.
Thanks to this powerful tool, I feel a bit more prepared to talk to my kids about cyberbullying and cyberstalking. And I hope you do, too.
DISCLAIMER: This post was sponsored by Primus, a trusted national communications provider, offering a smarter connectivity choice for Canadian consumers, businesses and wholesale customers. As Canada’s most experienced digital phone service (VoIP) provider, Primus delivers leading-edge Internet and network services, award winning voice services, and cloud-based phone systems (Hosted PBX), all backed by exceptional customer service. For further information, visit www.primus.ca.