Cyberbullying: How to recognise and deal with the signs

Cyberbullying: How to recognise and deal with the signs

I would like to share John’s story – a 12 year old boy who comes across as confident and rather popular with friends. John was upset because his friends took a photo of him (without his knowledge) in a funny pose and posted it on Instagram. They then tagged him so everyone he knew could see it. He found this very hurtful. Just a few days earlier, these same friends treated him like he was special and a part of their ‘inner sanctum’. This blowing hot and cold is all part of the bullying cycle of abuse and John was well and truly roped into it. It had a detrimental effect on John’s self-esteem. This reminded me of the bullying behaviour I and others faced back in our secondary school years. The dynamics around cyberbullying are very similar to that of real life bullying we faced as children. However, online bullying is more challenged because life on social media does not stop when the bell rings and children make their way back home. When I was John’s age, I could feel safe, away from the bully when not at school and the friendships I built outside school gave me the strength to face the bully at school. John’s bullies follow him home on social media and this is a concept that people of my generation (or older) did not experience as children. Therefore, we need to develop a strong degree of empathy towards our children to try and understand the experiences they are going through when they engage with social media, which is a very important part of their...
Connecting in Cyberspace

Connecting in Cyberspace

“Are you a bot?” Something inside of me never ceases to wonder in amazement at what lies behind this question that often – too often – frames the opening salvo of a conversation with Kellimni.com*. Our teenagers want to connect. They loath what is false or artificial but desperately crave for connections that are real, significant and genuine: qualities that make a relationship deeply human. This need to connect drives them to reach out continuously, lest they end up alone. For nothing is as scary, or as hurtful, to the average teen as loneliness. Being left out is unbearable at an age when they are willing to do almost anything to be accepted by their peers and blend in. Enter Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Kik: instant gratification and connection are only two key clicks away. But hold on a second, how safe are they online? Who are they hanging out with in cyberspace? And, by the way, how in tune are caring adults with their world? Teenagers may have a rough time distinguishing the good guys from the bad in cyberspace. Superficiality does not impress them either, for it renders them cheap. They sometimes flirt with it but their sensitive nature often only tolerates it to an extent. And then they feel bad about themselves… Kellimni.com reaches out to all teens in these islands with a message rich in humanity: real people, professionally trained to support the young, through a genuinely caring relationship that begins, and ends, online…  a relationship where the young can feel free and remain anonymous if they wish, and where what they share is respected and...
Preventing cyberbullying

Preventing cyberbullying

“No body likes me….I can’t believe what my ‘so-called’ friends are saying about me” Bullying is not just physical- using technology to tease, embarrass and spread rumours are also bullying behaviours. Do you know what your child is chatting to his/her friends about?  What is cyberbullying? Cyberbullying occurs when a student, or several students use technology to: makes fun of another student does not include him or her out of things in activities on purpose excludes him or her from their group of friends or completely ignores him/her calls him or her hurtful names spreads false rumors about him or her or tells lies sends mean texts and tries to make other students dislike him or her These hurtful things can occur through: text messaging, pictures/photos or video clips, phone calls email instant messaging or chat-rooms and social media websites. Did you know? A recent survey conducted by the Malta Communications Authority revealed that 98% of Maltese children between 8 and 15 years old have access to Internet in the home.  Also, within the same age group 56% have access to the Internet on their mobiles. Other statistics show that 41% of children between the ages of 8 and 11 have a Facebook account in their name despite the minimum age of 13 to register.  What can I do? Set up the Vodafone Guardian Application . The app enables parents to stay in control in a number of ways, including: Blocking specific contacts or mobile phone numbers to prevent bullying text messages or calls Specifying times during which their child can make or receive calls, use apps, access the Web and...