PHOTO: More than half of teens surveyed for the Pew Research Internet Project said they’d observed instances of cyber-bullying. Photo courtesy www.bullyingeducation.org.
Bullying is no longer a behavior that happens mostly on the playground or the school bus. Social media is providing online channels for negative interactions between children, with more than half of teens reporting they have witnessed online bullying. Experts such as Peggy Caruso, a life coach and author of the book “Revolutionize Your Child’s Life,” say the best way adults can help their children is to be aware of the potential sources of bullying. “To understand and prevent negative influences,” she said, “I think the biggest thing is understanding the types of bullying, the signs that you look for.” She said those signs include a child who seems withdrawn, lacks the desire to interact with others or exhibits extreme changes in behavior. In addition to increased technology providing other outlets for bullies, Caruso said it also has decreased traditional communication between children, such as talking and problem-solving face to face. “One of the issues with technology and social media and whatnot is the loss of communication,” she said. “So, I also teach them how to mastermind together, brainstorm with other children and just try to bring back some things that are lost.” To deter negative online interactions, she urged advising your child to resist the temptation to respond to the bully, don’t retaliate, save any evidence and use online privacy tools and settings to block the bully. Data on cyber-bullying is online at pewinternet.org.