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Posts Tagged ‘cyberbullying’

As I recently reminisced with a group of friends, interwoven in our conversation were comments about our use of technology when we were teens. We wrote letters to one another instead of sending emails. We made very short long-distance calls rather than texting. We even took photos on a camera with film that had to be developed!

In the last week I have become the parent of a teenager. This is a time of transition in my parenting style. We want to raise young people who can not only function on their own but make good and wise choices and be of benefit to others and society. Therefore, we should be well-informed parents on the topics below when it comes to teens and screens.

Cyberbullying: Bullying is a tale as old as time, but technology allows for increased opportunities to harass others without limitations of time and space. This often leads to silent and continued suffering for teens. One of the best resources that I have found on this topic is from the Cyberbullying Research Center. This is co-directed by two professors of criminal justice from the University of Wisconsin and Florida Atlantic University.

They define cyberbullying as: “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices. This includes incidents where adolescents use technology to harass, threaten, humiliate, or otherwise hassle their peers.” According to their research over the past 13 years, 28 percent of students have experienced cyberbullying in their lifetimes.

Online predators: A 2014 Oklahoma State University study explored teacher and counselors’ perceptions of preventing sexual assault from online predators. They identified five themes that contribute to this problem including lack of parental supervision, social networking websites and chat rooms, teenagers need for relationships, instant gratification among teenagers, and lack of education for parents. A Cornell University study from 2013 showed that many parents were underestimating risky online behavior of their children.

One idea I find particularly interesting is creating a family online safety contract with expectations for both child/teen and parents. There are lots of examples to set the stage for some great discussions about boundaries. Having “parental controls” turned on is not the same as having conversations with your tweens and teens about expectations while online.

The lingo: I laughed at a t-shirt I saw the other day that said, “No one prepares you for the transition from Ma-ma to Mommy to Mom to Bruh.” Teens have always had their own language. One way to decode or to better understand abbreviations and acronyms is through the Common Sense Education Digital Glossary or Cyberbullying Research Center Glossary. They can help you understand vamping and doxing, the difference between TikTok and Yik Yak, YOLO, FOMO, PAP and POS.

All in all, the worst thing we can do as parents is hand youth a tablet, phone or laptop and just hope they will be safe. We wouldn’t say, “Here’s a car. Drive it whenever you want, however you want, anywhere you want.” The most important thing we can do is to talk with our tweens and teens about the good and the bad and set clear expectations. Adolescents don’t think about the future or consequences the same way that adults do. That is why they have us in their lives. It is both a great privilege and challenge to be in this interdependent coaching phase of parenting a teen.

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Sources:

Cyberbullying Research Center (2020) Summary of Our Cyberbullying Research (2007-2019) https://cyberbullying.org/summary-of-our-cyberbullying-research

Baghurst, T., Alexander, R., Tapps, T. (2014) Academic Exchange Quarterly Winter Volume 18, Issue 1 Ways To Protect Students From Online Predators. http://rapidintellect.com/AEQweb/t5414v4.pdf

Segelken, H.R. Cornell Chronicle (October 202, 2013) Parents could be clueless about risky online behavior. https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2013/10/parents-could-be-clueless-about-risky-online-behavior

PureSight Online Child Safety (2020) Family online safety contract. https://puresight.com/Useful-tools/family-online-safety-contract.html

Common Sense Education (2020) Digital Glossary. https://www.commonsense.org/education/digital-glossary

Hinduja, S. and Patchin, J.W. Cyberbullying Research Center (2020) Glossary: Social Media, Cyberbullying, & Online Safety Terms To Know https://cyberbullying.org/social-media-cyberbullying-online-safety-glossary.pdf

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