Ironically enough, social media for kids has often been criticized for making people asocial. It is accused of stimulating bullies to be mean and parents are afraid of exposing their children to an online world filled with haters.
At watAgame we take this topic very seriously, since we want Momio to be a fun place for kids – so creating a tolerant, friendly and understanding community is one of our top priorities. Therefore, we encourage kids to be nice to each other and educate those who are not.
Many of us, including myself, have encountered bullying in our own lives, so I started to wonder: what are the differences between school- and cyberbullying? What are the structures behind bullying and how can we help the bullied?
IS IT TRUE THAT DIGITAL BULLYING DIFFERS FROM SCHOOL BULLYING?
No, according to Save The Children project coordinator Naja Kinch Sohn, it is not. Online or offline, these are the most common reasons for bullying:
- Boredom – Children who feel bored because they have nothing else to keep them occupied.
- Missing solidarity – Children who do not feel that they are part of a well-functioning community.
- Lack of understanding – Children who do not understand that there are many different ways of looking, feeling, talking, engaging and so on. These children usually lack tolerance.
IS THERE ANOTHER PROBLEM WITH CYBERBULLYING?
It might be true, however, that online bullying feels different, if not even worse than offline bullying. But why is that?
- Body language is missing – Children might perceive harsh words as even harsher online, because they can only react to what they read and this can lead to misunderstandings.
- Bullying has no time limit – In other places than school, mean words stay written and bullies can say mean things around the clock. It seems harder to escape from it online.
- Bullies can be anonymous – Children are in doubt about who is bullying them. They often wonder: Does this person really know me?
WHAT CAN PARENTS DO?
As a parent, it can be hard to tackle specific cyberbullying aspects, as you do not really know who to confront. However, you can help prevent bullying by:
- Involve yourself and take responsibility for what happens online. Take your child’s feelings seriously, even if it is not easy to understand what they are going through. Try to take part in solving the conflict – for example on Momio you can write to our support, so we can help you find out what really happened.
- Talk to your child about conflict solving. Explain that the person online might not necessarily know your child and that being bullied is definitely not your child’s fault.
- Don’t give up! Show your child your support and ask them every day: “What happened online today?”
IT’S NEVER OK
Social media hasn’t caused more bullying – but it has given it a new arena. No matter where it happens, the structures behind bullying are the same: it is the same group of people with the same reasons.
It is important that your child understands that it is never their fault that they are being bullied or excluded. Some people use lame excuses for bullying others, but there is absolutely nothing that justifies that.