As our followers know, Adaptive Office Solutions is all about cyber security. But, Adaptive also happens to be owned by Brett Gallant, a father of five. Near and dear to his heart is the topic of Electronic Screen Syndrome (ESS) – overstimulation of children’s nervous systems caused by excessive screen time that influences behavior, mood, and focus.
The “cure” to that is limiting screen time, and in some cases, an “electronic fast,” for a predetermined period of time. While some children are affected by ESS, many more are affected by cyberbullying. The effects are not to be downplayed. In time, children who have been affected may engage in substance abuse, self-harm, and attempts of suicide.
Parenting Isn’t Child’s Play
We acknowledge that this topic may be a difficult one to consider, but ignoring it or thinking it will never happen to your child is naive at best, and negligent at the worst. Compounding the problem is the fact that most children – especially boys and teenagers of both genders – don’t talk about it.
It’s you, as the parent, who should be responsible for starting the conversation. And … it can’t happen soon enough. An important part of the exchange is establishing the fact that you are a safe haven for them. Your child needs to know that they can come to you with their concerns and that you will always be there to love, support, and protect them. No matter what.
Yes, there may be times that you’ll be shocked by the things other children are capable of. You may also be surprised by your child’s online presence or past interactions. We suggest you practice your “therapist face,” should that time come. In the meantime, the best thing you can do for yourself and your child(ren), is to arm yourself with information.
In this article, we’ll tackle some painful realities, but we’ll also provide you with some talking points and cyber tools that you can use to protect your family. Let’s get started…
Top 10 Ways to Handle Cyberbullying
What is Cyberbullying?
According to a recent article, “Bullying has evolved from the days of after-school fistfights or shakedowns for lunch money. In keeping pace with today’s technology, bullying has gone cyber—moving to email, text, and social media. This shift to the internet has amplified the devastating impact of bullying because internet mediums facilitate rapid distribution and have no ‘take-back’ or ‘erase’ buttons. What may start as a petty playground fight can quickly escalate and end in tragedy. Here’s a look at cyberbullying by the numbers and the top 10 ways to stop bullies in their tracks.
1) Tell Someone
The vast majority, 90%, of teens agree that cyberbullying is a problem (shocking, right?!), and 63% believe this is a serious problem. Unfortunately, most teens also believe that schools, politicians, and social media companies are failing to address the problem. The good news is that most teens also feel that their parents are effective allies.
Still, it’s on parents to be vigilant and reach out to their children if they perceive a possible problem. Often, teens will hesitate to tell parents or other adults if they are the victims of cyberbullying. This lack of communication stems from embarrassment or fear. Victims worry that teachers and parents won’t be able to stop the abuse, and that the harassment will only worsen once the bully finds out that they’ve told an adult.
If you believe that your child is being bullied, or is a bully, it’s critical for you to reach out immediately. Look for practical ways to address the issue, such as involving school administrators and/or a therapist or by contacting social media sites directly.
2) Keep Everything
In some cases, bullying crosses the line from aggravation to criminal harassment or threats. A study found that children and young adults who are the victims of cyberbullying are more than twice as likely to engage in self-harm or attempt suicide.
The tragedy has become all too familiar: Channing Smith. Gabbie Green. Dolly Everett. And suicide is only one of a plethora of possible bad outcomes. But you can change that starting today. Learn some quick and effective techniques to help your family protect against and overcome cyberbullying.
***Adaptive will provide some sources later in this article
There is no time to hesitate if you believe that your child is the victim of cyberbullying. Reach out to your child immediately. Save all posts, messages, and communications from the bully by taking screenshots, or photos on your smartphone; in addition to recording the time and date and any other relevant information. Bring everything to the school administration and consider involving the police if you feel that things have crossed the line.
3) Don’t Engage
A survey of children’s online behavior found that approximately 60% of children who use social media have witnessed some form of bullying, and that, for various reasons, most children ignored the behavior altogether. In order to combat this, a mix of acknowledgment and avoidance is recommended. Those observing the attacks must be willing to report problems to friends, family members, or teachers. While those being bullied are often better off ignoring the attacks rather than responding. The goal of any bully is to goad his or her victim into anger and make them acknowledge ridiculous claims or malicious statements.
The best option for victims is to block the bully from social media and email accounts altogether. For many social media apps, such as Facebook or Instagram, blocking not only removes the bully from the victim’s view, it also means that the bully can no longer directly link to the victim’s profile or even see posts by mutual contacts that tag the victim.
4) Educate Yourself
According to enough.org, nearly half (47%) of all young people had been the victims of cyberbullying and a Google survey reported that teachers now consider cyberbullying to be the #1 classroom safety problem. As parents, it’s crucial to learn all you can about what your children are doing on the internet and with their smartphones. Consider cybersecurity options dedicated to keeping kids safe online.
***Adaptive will provide some solutions later in the article.
One common misconception is that boys are always the aggressors with girls the likely victims. However, girls are just as likely as boys to be both victims and bullies. While boys are more likely to threaten physical violence, girls focus on emotional abuse designed to undermine victims’ self-esteem, which can be even more damaging.
5) Understand the Scope
Many adults believe social media sites are the likely stages for bullying behaviors, and they’re right. But, with 95% of teens now using smartphones, there’s a far greater scope of potential harm. Bullying can occur on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or through Snapchat, emails, and texts coming directly from bullies. In addition to almost ubiquitous smartphone access, 45% of teens report near constant online activity, harassment too can become almost constant. With the rapid changes in technology, it’s imperative to continuously monitor your children’s mobile devices and their online behavior to stay ahead of any potential threats.
6) Recognize the Signs
A cyberbullied child looks the same as any adolescent—often unwilling to talk about his or her day or disclose personal information. But you should be on the lookout for other signs that your child is the victim of cyberbullying, like a loss of interest in favorite activities, an unexplained decline in grades, skipped classes, symptoms of depression, and changes in sleeping or eating habits. While any of these may be indicative of multiple concerns, be especially alert if also notice a sudden lack of interest in using the computer or a tendency to become upset after being online or using their smartphone. Or in the case of a child who is the aggressor, extreme anger if you take his or her phone or computer privileges away.
7) Keep Data Secure
In the cases of Izzy Dix and Gabbie Green, bullies were able to set up fake Facebook profiles for the victims opening up a whole new level of abuse. It’s important for you and your teen to be diligent when it comes to their online posting behavior. It’s also a good idea to limit the number of photos and information that your child posts. Make sure they understand how to create secure passwords and to change them regularly. Bullies have been known to hack or “hijack” victims’ profiles to post rude and offensive comments. Likewise, teens should always set their social media profiles to “private” and ignore messages from people they don’t know altogether. Today’s comprehensive internet security solutions include password management tools and other cybersecurity features that can help keep your children’s accounts and online identities secure.
8) Don’t Get Turned Around
As noted by dosomething.org, some victims do fight back against bullies, and then become bullies themselves. While this may seem like one way to solve the problem, what often happens is a “sort of back-and-forth between victim and aggressor” which tends to continue and escalate the behavior. Make sure to educate your teen about being respectful of others’ feelings and privacy online. Tell your child that you understand the impulse to retaliate, but that in the long-term it’s best to not get involved in that way.
9) Stand Together
It’s important to stand together and look for long-term solutions to cyberbullying. Canada passed a bill into law that made it illegal to distribute images of a person without their consent, and allows police to obtain a warrant for information about internet users based on “reasonable grounds to suspect” an offense has been perpetrated. The bill isn’t perfect, but it became a road map for future legislation to keep kids safe on the internet.
10) Hold Bullies Accountable
Bark, a new machine learning-based app, created “in collaboration with child psychologists, youth advisors, digital media experts, and law enforcement professionals” offers monitoring and protection from both direct cyberbullying and the signs of being a victim of cyberbullying. To date, the has prevented 16 credible school shootings. This addition includes warning parents when teens search terms related to self-harm or abuse.
Cyberbullying statistics make it clear: This is a persistent, serious problem. Armed with data, open communication, and actionable solutions, however, parents and teens can help turn the tide against cyberbullying.”
Speaking of “Bark,” we did a deep dive into their solution, and we have to say… it’s fantastic.
On their homepage, called The Bully in Your Pocket, they wrote, “Unlike the schoolyard bullies of our generation, cyberbullies follow today’s kids wherever they can take their phone. In the first half of 2020 alone, Bark detected more than 165,000 instances of severe cyberbullying.”
We strongly suggest that you check out their blogs. To say they provide a wealth of information is a massive understatement. Doing some quick math, we counted over 350 blogs, filled with information, tips, and advice that helps families manage and protect their children’s digital lives.
If that seems overwhelming, they’ve done a fantastic job of adding subcategories like: Cyberbullying, Kids and Technology, and Internet Safety Tips. Honestly, we’ve never found a website so jam-packed with information to protect children. Do yourself a favor and check it out. It looks like they are constantly adding new blogs, which makes sense with the digital landscape constantly changing, so we suggest that you add it to your bookmarks bar.
Anyway, after wading through the wealth of information, we thought we’d share some abbreviated information gems…
“Modern kids don’t separate online activity from real-world activity. Texting and Snapchatting friends are two ways of normal, everyday communication — not substitutes or lesser electronic versions of real-life conversations. These digital exchanges are as natural as breathing to them. In this way, cyberbullying, too, has become indistinguishable from bullying.
While kids probably don’t call it “cyberbullying,” it’s helpful to explain the term to parents so they better understand the types of activities that make up bullying behavior and how they’re carried out.
Being picked on is one of the most universal forms of bullying, and it comprises countless different forms of online harassment for children. It can come in the form of aggressive or hurtful texts, emails, direct messages (DMs), and comments on social media posts. It can even come in the form of personal attacks from a bully’s own social media profiles, where the harassment can reach even more people. The onslaught can be relentless, especially when groups of kids start harassing someone together (an activity so common it’s known as “brigading”).
Many parents believe that the solution to harassment lies in blocking, but this doesn’t always offer a reprieve, as messages can be sent anew from different email accounts and social media platforms. It can be exhausting for kids to deal with harassment from countless angles, which is why it’s so serious and potentially damaging.
The old saying that you can never be sure who you’re talking to online is classic for a reason — you really can’t be certain. Masquerading occurs when a kid pretends to be another person online. It takes just a matter of seconds for a child to create a fake email address and a fake social media profile. Photos are easily grabbed from the internet or another profile to help round out the illusion. And while masquerading is often intended as a joke, pretending to be a stranger or a mutual friend tends to escalate quickly and can lead to trouble. By posing as someone else, a bully could gain access to a child’s innermost secrets (like who they have a crush on) and then share them with the school — resulting in potential shame and embarrassment for the child.
This form of cyberbullying is akin to being picked last for a kickball team — except it can happen anywhere at any time, leaving kids reeling from its effects. There are multiple ways to exclude someone online — and many of them can be very performative and dramatic. A small-scale example is four friends in a group chat ceremoniously deciding to boot out a fifth member. On a larger scale, an entire homeroom could decide to create a group with all but one classmate and name it “Everyone in Mr. Johnson’s Class But Taylor.” As confrontations ramp up in group chat, a common threat is to block someone, the ultimate affront in a world where digital erasure equals social erasure.
Doxing occurs when someone obtains an individual’s information like their home address, social security number, or other private data and publishes it online as a way to invite harassment, fraud, or even criminal activity upon them. While kids usually don’t take it to this level, the sharing of private photos, secrets, or embarrassing information can wreak havoc on a child’s life — especially in a world where digital information can be shared instantaneously with thousands of people.
Trolling is technically a form of harassment, but it’s a very specific type of cyberbullying. A person trolls when they make inflammatory, anonymous statements online for the sole purpose of derailing an online conversation or provoking other participants in the discussion. A troll can also make an individual feel bad by constantly leaving negative comments on social media posts to hurt their feelings. Many kids experiment with trolling behavior to see what reactions they can get out of others, oftentimes by saying outrageous things they don’t even mean.”
In a separate blog by Bark, they wrote, “Intervening to stop cyberbullying isn’t always easy. Parents know that their kids may not want to have a conversation about online activity. Children, on the other hand, don’t want to get in trouble or have their phones taken away. To some kids, revealing the content of their messages and posts can feel like an invasion of privacy.
Breaking through this discomfort will probably get easier over time as you work on communication and reinforce good habits.
First, we recommend creating a tech contract with your kids. This agreement can outline expectations for online behavior, including:
- When they can use their phone
- What apps they can use
- How they should act while online
- What the consequences are for violations
- Teens may welcome your help, surprisingly. Some actually feel that adults are not doing enough to monitor and prevent cyberbullying. Whether they’ve experienced cyberbullying or not, your kids might be ready to talk more about it.
Lastly, before you talk about bullying that your child is experiencing, make sure you have the facts. Awareness is key to having a healthy, productive conversation.
Now, let’s talk through some specific steps that you can take to help prevent cyberbullying. What you’re hoping to learn is probably dependent on how cyberbullying is affecting your family, so we’ve separated our guidance into two sections.
If Your Child Is Being Bullied
- Report what’s happening. Encourage your kids to speak up if they see instances of cyberbullying online. By creating an environment of awareness and accountability, you can encourage your kids to call out and reject inappropriate activity. It’s also important for kids to know who they should tell about the inappropriate activity. Other adults (like teachers, coaches, and mentors) in your kid’s lives can create a broader network of eyes and ears. Periodically touching base with these people can help you keep track of problematic activity.
- Educate and stay up to date. Teach your kids what cyberbullying looks like, and how to understand the difference between having fun and causing harm. Blogs like Bark help you decode internet trends, slang, and behavior.
- Support and step in. The experience of bullying may cause your child to feel embarrassed, ashamed, or guilty. Help your child understand that they aren’t responsible for cyberbullying they’ve experienced. Getting rid of the stigma around experiences of cyberbullying makes kids more likely to report it when it happens.
- Find the root cause of cyberbullying. The social dynamics of bullying can be complicated. Is your child caught in an ongoing feud between friends? Were they standing up for someone else online? Is it possible that they’re experiencing retaliation for things that they said or did first? Understanding why cyberbullying is happening will help you step in where and how it’s needed.
- Limit their exposure to harm. Teach your kids how to remove themselves from negative online situations in safe and healthy ways. When experiencing cyberbullying, kids sometimes may want to quit social media altogether. Long term, though, they might miss interacting with friends and using their favorite apps. Addressing the underlying sources of abuse is usually a better option, though temporary account deactivations or breaks from social media might make your child feel better.
- Protect their accounts. Doxing or illegal sharing of personal information often happens when accounts aren’t secure enough. Changing passwords, restricting access, and using two-factor authentication are all recommended — even for your kid’s accounts.
- Use a tool like Bark to monitor online activity. Early detection is key for keeping things from quickly getting out of hand. Bark does much more than just monitor online activity. Created in partnership with experts in child psychology, Bark is designed to help parents better understand and oversee their kids’ online activity. We do this through sentiment analysis, screen time management, and more.
Cyberbullying is an all-too-common occurrence in today’s digital age. Plus, kids often have to figure out how to deal with cyberbullying when growing up, facing academic pressure, dealing with social challenges, and a lot more. With the right monitoring tools and approach, it’s easier to have an honest conversation with your kids. Then, you can let them know that you’re here to listen, support, and help where needed.”
***For another phenomenal resource, visit StopBullyin.Gov
Cyberbullying and Cybersecurity: How are they connected?
In excerpts from an article by AT&T, they wrote, “Cyberbullying and cybersecurity breaches are two common problems in the modern, internet-driven world. The fact that they are both related to the internet is not the only connection they have, however. The two are actually intimately connected issues on multiple levels.
It may seem like an odd notion. After all, cyberbullying typically involves using technology to harass a person (often overtly), while cybersecurity involves preventing hackers and identity thieves from accessing information and then simply getting away without being caught. While the two have similarities in that they both involve malicious actors online, the motives are quite different. However, the points of connection between these two topics are worth exploring.
Defining cyberbullying and cybersecurity
When comparing terms like these, it can be helpful to lay out a definition for each in order to make sure everyone is on the same page. Cyberbullying is, simply put, bullying a person through technological outlets, such as social media or texting. Cybersecurity is the protection of sensitive data (and therefore people) using specific measures.
The modern world now knows that bullying can go beyond simple physical abuse; it can take place digitally as well. Cyberbullying can involve intimidating, deceiving, harassing, humiliating, and even directly impersonating a person. Since it takes place online, it also isn’t restricted to places like school or social gatherings. Due to the ubiquitous nature of the internet, cyberbullying can follow victims throughout every aspect of their lives.
It also typically involves the common issue of cyberstalking. While it may be cute or entertaining to learn about a new friend or potential partner by following their goings-ons on Facebook, the issue of cyberstalking in a cyberbullying context is serious and is one of the key things that connect it to cybersecurity.
While cybersecurity is a broad topic, it’s worth taking the time to highlight some of the more specific areas of the practice that directly relate to the issue of cyberbullying. If a cyberbully is stalking someone else, they may hack into their user account on a game, an email address, or social media account in order to impersonate them. This allows them to get information from their victim’s friends and family to harass them.
Another way a cyberbully can be a cybersecurity threat is by using malware to hack into their target’s phone. This can give them access to their GPS location or even sensitive personal information housed on the device. Perhaps the most unnerving aspect of this kind of data breach is the potential for the stalker to use a phone, tablet, or laptop’s camera in order to stalk a person by looking right into their home through their device.
How to manage cyberbullying and cybersecurity
Of course, being aware of a problem doesn’t make it go away. However, several different measures can be taken to help minimize the threat and effects of both cyberbullying and a cybersecurity breach:
Maintain cybersecurity diligence
It’s no secret that the technological world is always changing. There are a few best practices that can minimize cybersecurity risks, including:
- Keeping software up to date at all times.
Often businesses include important security patches and upgrades in software updates. Using outdated software naturally increases the risk of a breach.
- Create good passwords.
It’s important not to simply use one’s birthday and initials on every account they own. Instead, create strong, diverse passwords in order to keep information safe. There are also programs that help users organize and keep track of passwords so that they’re less likely to be forgotten or confused.
- Be on guard for scams.
It’s important to never click on a link or download if it isn’t clear what source it’s coming from. In addition, it’s a good idea to never give personal information over the phone or via text when it’s an unknown number. Finally, never give personal information when receiving an automated phone call. If it seems important, call back and speak to a human representative after researching the number.
Teach healthy communication
In addition to good cybersecurity diligence, it’s important to teach all internet users — especially children — the importance of good, honest, healthy communication regarding their online activities. This must involve more than simple scare tactics of how dangerous the internet can be. Strive to cultivate a trusting relationship that fosters a sense of confidence and open dialogue. In addition, children should be made aware of multiple options for adult communication, including parents, teachers, and counselors.
Due diligence is the name of the game
Finally, it’s important to once again address the notion of due diligence. Cyberbullying and cybersecurity breaches should be taken with extreme seriousness. Anyone open to the threat of cyberbullying — and that includes nearly everyone these days — should take precautionary measures to make sure that they and their loved ones know how to identify and address cyberbullying. In addition, any lack of cybersecurity should be addressed so that it doesn’t put them at an increased risk of harm should a cyberbullying situation arise.
Take steps to increase your cybersecurity and make sure that everyone is well informed about the issues. With these measures in place, you and your loved ones will live happier and more secure in an increasingly connected world.”
At Adaptive Office Solutions, cybersecurity is our specialty. We keep cybercrimes at bay by using analysis, forensics, and reverse engineering to prevent malware attempts and patch vulnerability issues. By making an investment in multilayered cybersecurity, you can leverage our expertise to boost your defenses, mitigate risks, and protect your data with next-gen IT security solutions.
When you know your technology is being looked after, you can forget about struggling with IT issues and concentrate on running your business. By making an upfront investment in your cybersecurity, you can lower your costs through systems that are running at their prime; creating greater efficiency and preventing data loss and costly downtime.
To schedule your Cyber Security Risk Review, call the Adaptive Office Solution service hotline at 506-624-9480 or email us at email@example.com