The internet allows students to access information in a matter of seconds. This has widened the world of the classroom. However, new technology also brings new problems. Cyberbullying is one of those problems — and it’s a big problem for schools. The Cyberbullying Research Center defines cyberbullying as “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.” In a 2019 study, up to 37 percent of students reported being cyberbullied. The biggest step in the fight against cyberbullying is prevention. By recognizing the signs of cyberbullying, we can stop potential harm before it begins.
Decrease in Device Usage
One of the biggest indicators of cyberbullying is an unexpected hesitation to use their devices. If a child suddenly seems disinterested in a device, it’s a sign that they’re being attacked. Also, the child may want to completely unplug when at home. Using technology could cause the child to feel uneasy and unsafe. Teachers can help by studying how their students use technology. This awareness helps teachers spot changes that indicate online bullying.
Sudden Withdrawal from Social Media
Sometimes, bullied students withdraw from social media entirely. They may suddenly delete Facebook or Instagram profiles. Parents should be aware of all of their children’s accounts. That way, they can watch for any sudden inactivity. Also, bullied students sometimes drastically change how they talk about social media. Their online personas may change as well. If a teacher is concerned, they should meet with a student’s parents about their social media presence.
Reluctance for Activities
A child might be reluctant to leave the safety of their home. Also, they may avoid interactions with their peers. Or they may no longer show interest in activities they usually enjoy. Furthermore, at school, they might stay alone and avoid fellow students. Additionally, teachers should watch for any strange group interactions. Sometimes, groups surround a bullied student and cause them to seem uneasy.
Frustration and sadness often indicate an online attack. That’s especially true if it’s directed towards devices. Often, bullied students show signs of depression and anxiety. Other emotional changes include sudden anger and lashing out. These can be a result of fear and a feeling of being trapped. For an educator, however, emotional changes are sometimes the most difficult to detect. Therefore, it’s important to know that difficulty concentrating is a sign of anxiety and depression. Another sign is self-destructive behavior.
Unwillingness to Communicate
A child might be jumpy and unwilling to speak to a parent or teacher. This may be especially true when it comes to talking about social media. Often, they fear an adult’s response. Also, they might not want to create a more complicated situation. Teachers can prevent this by creating an open, comforting space for their students. Additionally, teachers should encourage students to report online bulling.
To put it simply, being observant is important. By knowing what to look for, educators can prevent cyberbullying. However, teachers can’t spot everything. That’s where computer monitoring software like LearnSafe can help. LearnSafe detects cyberbullying and other at-risk behaviors. This allows administrators to intervene, stopping dangerous situations before it’s too late. LearnSafe works on- and off-line. It can even be installed on laptops sent home for distance learning. In this way, LearnSafe ensures student safety no matter where learning takes place.
Text by Kassie Roberts