The Internet has transformed how we interact with our peers. Teenagers interact with each other at a furious pace through social networks and apps, which has increased concerns about the safety of these online activities. Online bullying, or cyberbullying is one of the most significant of the problems that can result. Adina Farrukh, Rebecca Sadwick, and John Villasenor explore cyberbullying, the measures taken to prevent it, and the relevant research in a new paper titled Youth Internet Safety: Risks, Responses, and Research Recommendations.
A cyberbully shares much in common with his or her offline counterparts. Both exploit power imbalances to harass their victim. Several factors make cyberbullying even worse than what parents may have experienced in their youth. The potential to be anonymous on the Internet emboldens bullies and enables behavior that might not occur otherwise. Online bullies also have greater power because of their easy access to a large audience via social media platforms. The Internet makes it simple for teenagers to bully each other.
Tips to Prevent Cyberbullying
- Encourage teenagers to appropriately limit what they post online.
- Victims of cyberbullying should change their online accounts in order to prevent further harassment.
- Parents and other adults responsible for the safety of teenagers should get involved by appropriate monitoring of online activities. Teaching appropriate online behaviors to teens is also important.
The Role of Research in Combatting Cyberbullying
In order to effectively protect young people on the Internet from cyberbullying Farrukh and her co-authors make a number of important recommendations. Among other things, they recommend a change in the way researchers examine the subject. In their work they propose a longitudinal survey method based on standardized definitions. How research uses the term “bullying” varies from study to study. This creates gaps and inconsistencies in the research and makes it less actionable for parents and policy makers. Remedying this issue would be the first step to producing more precise information about cyberbullying. The researchers also argue that future studies must address how teens use mobile devices. Currently, not enough is understood about what it takes to keep teenagers safe online. Research can help to settle any questions about the strategies parents can use to protect their children.
Matt Mariano contributed to this post