October is National Bullying Prevention Month. This gives us an opportunity to bring this issue to the attention of our students and community in a proactive way. In our schools, we have strict anti-bullying policies and procedures around addressing it when it occurs. We also take time to educate our students on what bullying is, what to do if they're being bullied, and what to do when they see others being bullied.
In today's world, a great deal of bullying occurs online when students are out of school. Social media is the preferred outlet. It can be a challenge for parents and guardians to fully supervise their child or teen's time online, yet it is fundamentally important for a parent or guardian to be aware of how they are interacting with others, including their friends.
According to a 2015 report on teens and their use of social media conducted by the Pew Research Center, 92% of teens report going online daily, with 56% saying they go online several times a day. Social media is wildly popular, with Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat being the preferred platforms. While there are many good things that are experienced through social media, it has unfortunately also created an outlet for a form of bullying that includes isolation, threats, and comments that teens say they would never say to a person in a face-to-face conversation.
According to a CNN special report, 13-year-olds use bullying to get attention. They may say outlandish things to be liked. They also reported that their biggest source of pain and conflict online is with their friends and the people closest to them. I don't think this pattern is limited to 13-year-olds. I must admit, this type of attack on one's friends defies my logic, but it also tells me we need to help young people know how to use these amazing tools in a way that is helpful and age-appropriate.
What's a person to do? In this post I'd like to provide you with some resources that you can use to navigate the world of technology as a parent, guardian, grandparent, teacher, or caregiver. The resources listed below provide wonderful tips on questions many ask, such as how much screen time is recommended, all the way to exploring when a child is ready to get a cell phone. And yes, there are some anti-bullying tips as well.
As always, best wishes.
Common Sense Media
Google Safety Center
Digital Citizenship Week (resources in English and Spanish)
National Bullying Prevention Month
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