The Rising Problem of Cyberbullying in a Digital Education Era
In a school environment, it is often seen that one or more students tend to frighten, trouble or cause distress to the other students, an act we identify as ‘bullying’.
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Although the culture of online learning has led to a reduction in on-ground interaction in schools in Noida, leading to a reduced rate of bullying, a new menace, equally, if not more troubling, has arisen.
This new menace can be identified by the name of ‘cyberbullying’. This form of bullying occurs through digital platforms like social media, chat rooms, and video call applications like Zoom, among others.
Since this form of bullying can start out as a harmless conversation, it becomes difficult for students to identify cyberbullying when it is happening, be it to themselves or to their friends. Thus, as parents and as teachers, it is important to teach students how to identify a situation where cyberbullying is occurring, so that further action towards the same can be taken.
Talking to strangers may be the only way your child can make new friends in these times, but one needs to be careful. We need to teach our children not to indulge in conversations that make them uncomfortable over any digital platform.
The first signs of bullying can be fear and withdrawal from daily activities, which as parents we can identify in students if at all it occurs. Cyberbullies also tend to demand favours or extend threats to students, which is why we need to educate them about making conversations that do not sway in either of these directions.
If at all your child notices some form of threatening or demanding, they should approach a trustworthy adult and let them take the further course of action.
Apart from these precautions that can be taken while conversing with strangers digitally, a few pointers about digital hygiene may also help prevent cyberbullying.
Students should be taught not to share their passwords or social media account details with anyone, be it a friend or someone they met virtually. Only secure websites (websites with a closed lock symbol near their URL) should be used for research and documentation purposes.
Students also tend to utilize third-party websites in search of torrents to download games, movies, TV series and music, which should be avoided to prevent viruses from entering your computers as well as data theft. As parents, we may look for proper entertainment services to help children access the content they want, such as Netflix or Prime Video.
We can also look at a restricted use of gadgets and a controlled screen time to prevent children from over-utilizing their digital freedom and using their allocated time to its maximum capacity.
Apart from this, as parents and as teachers, we need to understand that cyberbullying is never the child’s fault. The person, the device or the group on the other end is causing trouble, and we must do all that it takes to prevent our child from getting hurt.
Cyberbullying is a menace that can be curbed with quick actions and fast response time for a fast-growing digital world.
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