School and district administrators must take a proactive approach to preventing cyberbullying. Here are 6 myths that are preventing this from happening:
- Not in my backyard!
No matter how healthy your school environment, there is the potential for cyberbullying. Kids can be sucked into mean online behavior even if it is not happening in the “real world” in your classrooms and hallways. However, in a school that values communication, students are more likely to report bullying that does occur. When it is reported, swift
- It’s all blocked!
There is no way for a school to block its way to good online behavior. Students will always be one step ahead in finding the next platform for unsupervised online interactions. In fact, schools in many cases are better off steering kids to specific websites that do not allow anonymous posting and archive activity for school administrator review. For example, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive provide a system for online communication that preserves school oversight.
- It’s just the bad kids anyway.
Kids that do not normally get in trouble have the potential to be cyberbullies. It is very easy to behave in a virtual environment in a way that one would never do face to face. For example, students that use Minecraft may find that others damage their publicly shared worlds – even kids that they consider friends. This pattern of behavior holds true for adults – any review of Facebook discussions can confirm this!
- Kids will be kids.
Cyberbullying can be just as damaging as traditional mean behavior and lead to psychological breakdowns. In fact, in some ways it is even more damaging because it can often be hidden by those doing the bullying and the victims. In addition, it may multiply anxiety that developed during the school day. Prior to Internet communication, school day tension would generally ease with the close of school and a hasty exit from the school building. This is not true when communication at home can continue hurtful patterns.
- See! Technology has no place in schools.
A digital head in the sand is no solution to cyberbullying. Technology is everywhere and pretending it does not exist during the school day will not alleviate the responsibility of schools to prepare kids for the technology-driven world. The solution is to be proactive – to train students to be responsible digital citizens and to offer them the tools to respond when others are not.
- Our parents are taking care of it.
The challenge of overseeing online behavior at home is immense for parents and many are largely unaware of their kids’ online activities. In some cases, this is exacerbated because students have computers in their own bedroom. Others know that their kids need to complete schoolwork online and just don’t have time to be looking over shoulders constantly. Still others are unaware of technological supports for parental supervision including content filtering software and device-specific parental supervision capability.