Don’t panic: Three ways parents can tackle cyberbullying
Posted on November 30, 2017
3 min read
It’s time to stop telling young people to “switch off” when technology gets tough – and start more conversations about navigating the challenges we all face online, writes cyberbullying expert Archie Boulter.
Set your alarm for 6am. The school you’re working at tomorrow is on the other side of the city. Hit the road early; you know what school traffic is like. Say hello to the 150 students you’re working with today. You’ve got a few hours to equip each of them with the strategies they need to overcome (cyber)bullying and prejudice. Mission accomplished. Say goodbye to your 150 new mates and get to the airport… there’s are 300 new young people waiting to meet you in regional Australia tomorrow.
This is just an ordinary day in the life of a presenter at PROJECT ROCKIT – Australia’s youth-driven movement against bullying, hate and prejudice. We’ve been working in schools for over a decade now, having real talk with young people about the struggles they face online and offline and providing them with credible strategies for overcoming them.
I want to share what I’ve learnt from working with young people across the country each day and to debunk some common misconceptions about what they’re facing online and the type of support they need from adults.
First up, it’s not all doom and gloom, I promise. Often the public discourse about young people in the online world is centred around the bad stuff: “young people are addicted to social media” or “young people have gone wild with sexting”. Having worked with young people for the past three years and being kinda young myself (25 is young, right?), I’m happy to report that members of this generation aren’t just using their devices for taking selfies. They’re also using them to connect with like-minded people around the world, celebrate their talents and find support networks they may not have access to in the offline world.
In fact, I met a student in year 7 who was coding his own video games and uploading them to Steam®, an online gaming platform, for thousands of other gamers around the world to play. Or a year 10 girl in regional NSW who was able to keep up with her Nonna’s travels throughout Egypt via Skype™. (I believe her exact words were: “my Nonna won’t stop Skyping me!”)
At PROJECT ROCKIT we think the online world is an awesome channel for connection, entertainment and self-expression. But we also know that it comes with its fair share of challenges. I quickly learnt that it’s not catfishing, security breaches or creeps that young people are dealing with online daily – although cases do occur. It’s exclusion, rumours, violation of consent, popularity, body image, discrimination, and societal pressures. Sound familiar?
The pressures young people face online have been around for generations, they’re just playing out in a technological space. For example, young people comparing themselves to models on Instagram instead of a magazine, or finding out about parties they weren’t invited to through Facebook, rather than the schoolyard. These are just a couple of the challenges young people are facing online and you’ll notice they’re social in nature.
So what can we do about it? Don’t panic, there’s heaps we can do to support young people.
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