Cyberbullying is when when the Internet, cell phones or other devices are used to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person.
Most folks don't think about spreading gossip online or sending pictures via cellphone is a big deal. But one website dedicated to cyberbullying cites an old fable as a metaphor for understanding it a little better. (Click HERE to watch) It compares the gossip to feathers and spreading the gossip is similar to the wind blowing it away. The message: once you put it out there, it's not in your control anymore.
And the things that are said/posted on the internet are not just public, but also PERMANENT. A few years ago, rumors would fade over time, but one something is posted online, all it takes is a "click" for it to be found again. This can have devastating effects that no one could have predicted, like the tragic story of Hope Witsell, who committed suicide earlier this year. Read her story HERE.
More stories of cyberbullying that have made the news - Click HERE.
Here are a couple videos from the website cited earlier with actual stories about cyberbullying and sexting from the teens affected by it first hand.
"teen regrets what he said online about girls"
Safe Sexting - NO Such Thing:
Things to consider BEFORE even thinking about "sexting" (whether the pic is of you, is sent to you or is forwarded by you)
- This is currently considered child pornography and if caught you will be listed as a sex offender. FOR LIFE.
- Once sent, it's PERMANENT. It cannot be taken back and cannot be deleted and can end up in ANYONE'S hands.
- Is flirting REALLY worth possible public humiliation or damaging your future?
Tips to keep your passwords safe:
Some tips for keeping your cellphone safe:
One of the smartest mentioned – lock your keypad. It might seem like an inconvenience, BUT it will prevent anyone from picking up your phone and accessing your info, and you can still answer calls without having to unlock it. (also prevents random pocket dialing)
Cyberbullying and the law:
Two bills currently in talks right now propose different takes on how to handle cyberbullying. One wants to criminalize it and the other focuses on educating parents and teachers. Neither one is perfect, but the point is that lawmakers are taking this stuff seriously, so everyone should probably do so as well. Read more here.
So whatever you decide to do, make sure you're thinking about the consequences of your actions BEFORE engaging in these behaviors!
If laws are being put into effect, then consequences are soon to follow –like in THIS scenario where a Facebook comment got a student suspended.