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    Ah, technology. Children and teens are using it more than ever. And thanks to mobile broadband and high speed internet access, they’re able to engage with the social playground known as cyberspace. But what if that playground isn’t as safe you thought?


    What is Cyberbullying?

    Just as real-life playgrounds have bullies, the online world has cyberbullying, defined by the Cyberbullying Research Center as the “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.” It can happen on social media sites and message boards, in chats and instant messages, and through email. The National Crime Prevention Council states that almost half of all American kids have been bullied online, and almost a quarter have experienced it more than once.

    Its Harmful Effects

    The effect this abuse has on its victims can be devastating, resulting in low self-esteem, poor academic performance, and depression. This is similar to what occurs with real-life bullying except cyberbullying allows no respite. The school day will eventually end at some point; the internet is available 24 hours a day.

    How to Handle It

    So what can you do to prevent your kids from being cyberbullyied? Be aware of the sites your child visits, and tell them to report any bullying to a trusted adult. If your child is being bullied online, discourage them from responding to the bully. Explain that getting revenge against a cyberbully – or anyone – can only lead to more anger and pain without resolution. Encourage your child to keep track of the incidents, because this will prove helpful should teachers or other authority figures need to be involved. Finally, assure your child it is not their fault they’ve been targeted by bullies.

    Actions Have Consequences

    It’s vital to instill compassion and tolerance in children, and to teach them that their actions, whether online or off, do indeed have consequences. By speaking openly about cyberbullying, you can lessen its impact and help keep your child safe in cyberspace.

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