There is no doubt that the Internet has done a world of good for both adults and kids of all ages, alike. The Internet, especially during the recent pandemic, has been a means of connecting to people around the world without having to leave your city (or even your sofa). It is a way for people to work and learn remotely, and it's also a means of safe entertainment for those who choose to play games online. The Internet has also become a means of social connection. Between chat apps, video conferencing tools, social media platforms, and more, the Internet is a space where can go to communicate with one another. On the one hand, that can be magical because it makes it easier than ever to form relationships. On the other, it exposes all people—but especially teens—to cyberbullying, since both the anonymous and public natures of the Internet can create an environment well-suited for people to deliver cruel messaging or harassment. This can be especially dangerous and risky at an age where kids are both particularly vulnerable and particularly unkind. Cyberbullying is not rare. In fact, recent studies have showed that at least 50% of kids have experienced cyberbullying in their lifetime.
If you have a teenager who spends time online, it can help for you to learn about cyberbullying in order to help them avoid the risk of encountering it online. Because cyberbullying can have damaging ramifications, the sooner you can realize it's happening and do something to intervene, the more likely it is you will be able to do something that mitigates the potential damage.
If you're not sure what you need to look for to spot cyberbullying, read on. The following examples will give you a clue about where to look to spot it, and different ways you can protect your kids when they spend time on the web.
One form of cyberbullying is direct bullying via an online communication platform. Bullies can target other kids via text message, or they can send messages through apps that have messaging functionality, like Instagram or Facebook.
Cyberbullying sometimes takes the form or posting embarrassing or revealing photos of another kid online. If a peer has posted a photo that embarrasses or makes your teen feel shame, that is a form of online bullying.
A more recent way that cyberbullying has arisen online is via sites or polls that get teens to rank other teens based on factors like attractiveness or popularity. These can be greatly damaging to a teen's self-esteem.
One popular way to cyberbully someone is to impersonate them online. This can be done by creating social media profiles using a teen's name and image—then using that "fake" profile to post things or interact with others online. Alternatively, impersonation can be done by stealing a teen's password, actually logging into their accounts (social media, email, etc.) and pretending to be them online. This can cause damage to relationships and reputations in a very public way and why you should always talk to your teen about how to set safe passwords and keep them in a way that they cannot be stolen or gotten by people who intend to do them harm. Update your passwords regularly.
Similar to real-world bullying, cyberbullying includes the spreading of rumors–but by posting them in a very public forum where they will be seen by many and spread. This is an effective way to get hurtful or embarrassing information out to a lot of people quickly and can be hard to control or reel in once it has happened.
Spending time learning about cyberbullying is never a waste of time. Research shows that the quicker adults show kids that cyberbullying is not acceptable, the more effective they are at getting the behavior to stop. So taking the time to understand how to spot it can be a very useful practice.
While it is a significant problem—cyberbullying is just one threat that teens face when they use the Internet. The web is also a place full of other threats and risks, including viruses, phishing scams, ransomware attacks, and predators who pose behind internet facades to lure in kids upon whom they'll prey. If you want to keep your family safe from all of these threats online, you can turn to the security products created by Kaspersky. Kaspersky has a whole suite of security programs solely designed to keep your family safe on the web. You can choose to use something like Kaspersky Safe Kids to have better control over how your children use the web, and you can use something like Kaspersky Password Manager to ensure all your private credentials are tucked away safely. Browse through Kaseprsky's security offerings today, then get started taking the steps you need to make sure the Internet is always a safe and fun spot for your family to spend time.