According to MTV’s recent Digital Abuse Survey, more than three-quarters of young people (14-24) say digital abuse is a serious problem for people their age. But some kinds of online bullying (cyberbullying) are more serious than others.
1. Mean Words
According to the survey, 24% of young people said someone has written something about them on an Internet page that was really mean. This is up from 19% just two years prior. Of those who experienced this, 53% said the experience was very or extremely upsetting.
2. False Rumors
21% of young people said someone has used e-mail, IM, or text messages to spread rumors about them that were not true. This has risen from 18% two years ago. Moreover, of those who experienced this, 56% said the experience was very or extremely upsetting.
3. Online Impersonation
About 1 in 20 young people said someone has impersonated them by creating a fake Facebook or MySpace profile for them. Of those who experienced this, two-thirds said they were very or extremely upset by it.
Tips for Parents: When Your Child is a Target
1. Teach Your Teenager Healthy Reactions – Bullies often just want a rise out you. Teach your child not to respond or react to the bully. Sometimes just ignoring them for a time will stop the attacks. If the bullying is coming in the form of messages through a cell phone, IM, chat, or social network, often there are ways to block a particular person from sending more messages.
2. Save the Evidence – Save all e-mails, IMs, or chat conversations. Take note of the days and times the messages were sent. If you are unable to save the actual messages, take screenshots.
3. Guard Information – Teach your children to guard all their passwords. Change passwords if you feel their e-mail or social network profile has been hacked. Make sure your kid or teen knows what contact information is and is not appropriate to post online.
4. Involve the Right Authorities – If your child knows the bully, perhaps it would be appropriate to tell the bully’s parents (but be prepared for a possible negative reaction). If the bully is a schoolmate, inform the school authorities. Some forms of bullying often violate the “terms and conditions” for e-mail providers, cell phone carriers, social websites, and Internet service providers. Contact these authorities if you believe terms have been violated. Some forms of bullying may actually be illegal. If this is the case, contact local law enforcement.