The Rutgers student suicide is a tragedy. One click of a button that disseminated a cruel video caused such humiliation for a promising young violinist that he felt he had no choice but to jump off a bridge; a victim of cyberbullying. A recent article in USA Today asked the questions:
“Was what happened to Clementi a hate crime, bullying, a prank or all three? Or was it just the way things are now, when technology — tiny cameras, vast networks — allow a person’s most embarrassing moments to be spread around the world, in a permanent record for all to see?”
Cyberbullying is rampant. 38% of kids ages 11-16 have been victims of cyberbullying according to Pew.
The internet has no boundaries. When that button is hit, there is no take back, no going back, no redo. What’s posted online stays in the cyber-world forever. That’s why it’s so important for parents to understand not only what their kids are doing online but how their children are behaving online. Parents need to use their parenting skills online just as they do offline.
Parents teach kids not to bully on the playground – the same should be true on the computer. As soon as children start going online, parents need to teach kids to think before they send and about what they are sending. Is it hurtful? How would the person on the other end feel? When kids learn digital civility, the hope is that incidents of cruelty will diminish, as will the devastating results.
Have you discussed cyberbullying with your kids? Do they understand the boundaries between appropriate online communications and inappropriate bullying?