Before you can look to the future of cyberbullying, it is important to consider where the issue stands today. According to a paper released by Texas State University, as man as one in four teenagers have been the victim of cyberbullying in some form. While this is a significant number, what makes it likely is the number of teenagers who are engaging in social activities online, including social media sites, emailing and even texting. All of these methods are commonly used by teens to bully their peers without being face-to-face. Because online avenues are easy to use for bullying, it has become a more widely used method of attacking other children.
One of the biggest fuels to the fire for cyberbullying now and in the future is the lack of direct contact for the confrontation. It is much easier to say something demeaning or negative about someone when you aren’t looking the person in the face. The ability to hide behind the Internet makes it easier for children to bully others without having to think about the consequences of their actions. Unless parents and educators are willing to work with children on the negative consequences of cyberbullying, the behavior will continue without any thought to the consequences. This is because most of the consequences are felt by the victim rather than the bully.
In a school environment or other social situations, there are often adults around who can monitor what is going on and put a stop to negative behaviors as soon as they are identified. However, this isn’t the case when children jump online and use the Internet to communicate with their peers. In fact, with the rise in the number of children who are using the Internet today, the number of parents who actually monitor what their children are doing online seems to have declined, leaving many children to navigate the Internet on their own. If this lack of adult supervision continues, cyberbullying is only going to grow in the future.
The philosophy of most children is to simply grin and bear it because they don’t want to be tagged as a tattle tail or make the bullying worse. However, this is one of the worst things that can be done about the future of bullying in any form. According to the cyber bullying statistics collected by the i-Safe Foundation, more than half of teens who are bullied do not tell their parents. This lack of communication can have a detrimental impact on where cyber bullying is headed in the future. If adults aren’t aware of the issue, it can’t be resolved.
One of the most important things that can be done to slow down the growth of cyber bullying and put a stop to it is to draw attention to the issue. Cyber bullying has come into the spotlight in recent years, showcasing the children who have been victimized to a point that led to suicide and other severe consequences. Shining the spotlight on these problems is a good way to encourage action by everyone, including parents, educators and even the government, to take action that will lead to real consequences for engaging in this type of behavior.
Besides monitoring Internet use, parents need to pay attention to the cues their children exhibit to identify cases of cyberbullying. Talk to your child about what he should do if he experiences or witnesses this type of behavior, which includes talking to you or another trusted adult. It is also acceptable to limit your child’s access to the Internet, especially at a younger age, and monitor his activity to ensure he is staying safe online.
Schools also have a responsibility to protect children against cyber bullying as technology becomes a critical aspect of education. Many schools already monitor the Internet usage of students, limiting the sites they are allowed to visit on school computers and enacting harsh consequences for using school computers to partake in cyber bullying. This can serve as a deterrent for those who are hoping to remain anonymous in their attacks.
Many people seem to want to keep the government out of their lives, but the government is in place to protect the citizens. This includes protecting children from cyber bullying. Several states, including Florida and Arizona, have worked on creating legislation that would help curb bullying behavior through electronic means and instate consequences for these actions. However, these laws can often be difficult to pass due to concerns about interfering with free speech rights and can also be difficult to enforce. While the government can certainly help by creating these laws, it will be up to the cooperation of everyone to make these laws effective to stop cyber bullying in its tracks.
Like many other negative behaviors in children, cyber bullying can be curbed with the help of positive reinforcement tactics by parents and educators alike. This means creating educational programs that will teach children about what cyber bullying is and how it can impact the victims in the bullying. Schools can host assemblies that talk about this issue, while parents can discuss it with their children in the privacy of their own home. Talking about it is often enough to get the children thinking about it and making the right choices in their lives.
To stop the future of cyberbullying, everyone needs to take responsibility for what goes on. It is when everyone seems to think it is someone else’s problem that issues are ignored and continue to grow. While no one is sure what the future holds for these issues, the fact remains cyberbullying cannot be stopped without the action of many people. Children, parents, teachers, government officials and anyone who witnesses these negative actions need to be willing to take action to put a stop to it. This can include reporting the issue to the proper authorities, blocking bullying behavior and even asking people they know to stop.
The Internet and other similar features are a thing of the present and the future. The use of this technology is only going to grow, creating more opportunities for cyber bullying and other negative behavior. While there is no way to truly predict how things will progress in terms of cyber bullying, the risks of bullying growth can be reduced with the proper steps.