Guest Blogger #5: Cyberbullying

Today's guest blogger is Emily Levine who is a 3rd grade teacher. She just wrote a dissertation on Cyberbullying.

As a teacher the list of to-do is constantly growing and changing.  One thing that has not changed in the last several decades, however, is the issue of bullying.  Now, bullying is prevalent not only on the playground, but also on the technological devices that all children have access to.  Many adults believe that if their child does not have his/her own cell phone they are safe from being cyberbullied.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.  If your students, sons, or daughters play video games that have the capability of chatting with others, they are susceptible to being bullied, or bullying others.  

Cyberbullying can occur when students share their passwords with others, and those "friends" use the passwords to alter information in an account.  When playing video games, if children exclude someone from the game, or kick them out of a game that is also considered cyberbullying. 

Previously, children would pass mean notes around the classroom, now they just post mean messages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media outlets for all to see.  A popular reference to this phenomenon can be seen in the new movie DUFF.  The movie Mean Girls (slightly dated) also shows how a written slam book is used.  Students are now creating online slam books to put down others publicly. 

Cyberbullying and proper netiquette need to be discussed from an early age because access to technology is ubiquitous.  Children need to know how to respond if they are bystanders, oppressors, or those being bullied.  

Teachers can help address these situations by doing role plays, showing students how to responsibly use technology, educating students on how to report cyberbullying, and educating parents on how to respond to cyberbullying situations.  

For those students who are younger, there are books available that can be shared.  One of my particular favorites is Cell Phoney by Julia Cook.  

I would also suggest The Bully by Patricia Pollacco as a read aloud for 4-7th grade students.  For those students who are older, I would suggest reading Words Wound by Justin Patchin and Sameer Hinduja.  

I would love to serve as a resource for anyone needing additional information on the topic.  My dissertation was on the parent's perspective of cyberbullying and how they would respond if they became aware of their children's participation in cyberbullying.