Posted in: Schools


7年级女儿的一个同学这学期选修了“新闻学”课。她选择了“网络欺凌-Cyberbully”这个题目,采访了我作为一个家长的看法。 下面是她的问题和我的回答。

Dear xxx, 
I am happy and honored to have this chance to answer your questions. It gave me a chance to think about the cyberbullying as well. ​
Hope you are satisfied with my answers. If you want me to give more details for any question, please feel free to ask. 
Warm regards, Elaine 
  1. How do you think cyberbullying affects children or students?

​Cyberbullying adversely affects students’ emotion similar to face-to-face bullying in school. ​But cyberbullying can be more brutal and can spread faster. Therefore, it hurts more.

  1. What do you think the long term effects of cyberbullying on children/students are?

​If a child is cyberbullied for a long time without ​being noticed and helped, s/he must feel upset and lonely. Eventually, s/he might develop depression and mental problems. We’ve heard suicides because of cyberbullying.

  1. Do you think that social media is good or bad for children? Do you think that cyberbullying has a higher rate because of social media?

​I don’t think social media is good or bad in general. It is a media or platform that people can communicate with others from near and far. ​In essence, it is the same as we talk to others at school, church or a party.
But Chinese has a saying, “Good news never goes beyond the gate, while Bad news spreads far and wide.” John Milton, a English poet also said, “For evil news rides fast, while good news baits later.”  From this viewpoint, I think social media do more bads than goods to children who are still growing mentally and physically and lack of ability of independent and critic thinking.
Yes, I think social media amplify and speed up the effects of cyberbullying. On social media, people can stay anonymously and they don’t see readers’ reaction right away. Thus the bully can shoot off his or her mouth off without scruple. Hence, the bully’s rude remarks on social media can be meaner than the words that a bully might say if s/he is known or in a face-to-face situation.   Plus a rumor can spread much wider and faster on social media.
  1. Do you like it when your child is on social media or is online?

​I am OK with my children on social media or is online as long as they follow the rules. 1) They can talk with people they know and can only be a member of groups that they know. 2) Don’t say negative things on group chat or social media. 3) Respect others’ privacy. Don’t post anything of friends without their permission. 4) Time is limited.  We have control on their access to internet at home. They must do their school work and house chores first before they chit chat online.
  1. Has your child ever come to you with reports of cyberbullying? If yes, how do you think this affected them and what did you do about it?

​Not yet. ​But they were ever bullied at school. They were upset and did not want to talk about it. I knew some events right away as I could see they were upset. While sometimes it took me months or years to figure out what had been going on. Thus some events just made them sad for one or few days. Some actually bothered them for a long time.

No matter how long a bully issue has happened, I collect my observations and piece information together. Then I see if I need simply talk with my children to handle it on their own or talk with either teacher or parents involved. I want them to know I am always there for them.
Nevertheless, I cannot protect them all the time and forever. More important, life is full of tears and laughs. A child is growing into an independent and respectful adult by overcoming a lot of problems along his or her path of growth. We indeed have problems every moment. We need to become a problem solver instead of a problem keeper. Don’t be afraid of any problem. You are not the cause of it. It comes to you simply for you to solve it or deal with it. And you will become stronger and happier after you solve or are able deal with one problem after another.
  1. Do you think cyberbullying can be better controlled if you are closer to your child and monitoring their social media and online usage?

​Absolutely. I have tried to be open with my children and at the same time have tried to make them feel free to talk anything with me and my husband. ​As a parent, my job is to guide my children’s steps and to support their growth.

A closer relationship nurtures trust between children and parents.  With trust, it is much easier for us to understand chilrdren’s thoughts and behaviors and in the meanwhile to make our children understand why and what we expect them to do: such as monitoring their social media and online usage.
Our world and our people have never been perfect. Bullying and cyberbullying can happen to anybody anywhere anytime. The more effective measure is to prevent it from happening in the very beginning. And the key to this measure is to educate children to think independently and critically based on the golden rule “treat others as you want to be treated.”  Thus, our children won’t start bullying others, won’t help spreading out rumors, and will know what to do if they or their friends get bullied on social media or online.
  1. Would you say that students grades go down or their personality changes when they are being cyberbullied?

​Yes if a child has been cyberbullied for sometime without being noticed or helped.

  1. Do you think teenagers get cyber bullied more and cyberbully more? Why or why not?

Yes, teenagers get cyber bullied more and cyberbully more if ​we compare people from different age groups.

Teenagers have more or bigger conflicts than other age groups do. On one side, they still rely on their parents. On the other hand,  they become more independent. During this period of transformation and looking for identity, teenagers care a lot about others’ opinions about them. They are either try to influence others or under serious peer pressure. In reality, everybody is different. Therefore, more conflicts lead to more cyberbullying. In addition, teenagers have more time to go online and stay on social media as they don’t need to make a living on their own yet. 

Comparing teenagers’ cyberbullying over time, I feel that the statistics has not increased in recent years.  When we just started using all sorts of electronics, the statistics of teenagers being cyber bullied was increasing. Now almost everybody uses electronics and internet every day, I don’t think the statistics is still going up. This is only my guess and feeling based on the following reasons. There are many resources online about cyberbullying. But I have not found time series statistics which reflects its change over years.

1) People have become more aware of the problem of cyberbullying and educate ​children more about it.
2) More rules and laws have been established in this regard.
​This generation is growing up with electronics ​and is able to learn how to use these tools better and better. It is like when our human just started using fire or electricity. There have always been accidents or adverse effects along with good usages and effects. With our better learning and controling on our own,  we will use social media and internet in more and more good ways.
  1. How do you think students like us can respond to the bullying?

​As I emphasized before, the key to any problem is to be able to think independently and critically. I have two suggestions below for you to respond to the bullying.
1) ​Stay calm. You have to know for sure it is NOT TRUE that you become a thief simply because somebody says you are.
2) Stay tough. Don’t respond. Instead collect and keep messages as proof. Talk to an adult and get the bullying punished.
Note: Independent and critic thinking means that you gather and analyze your information by asking why and why not and come to your judgment or conclusion on your own. Keep in mind, information can be misleading. Other people can provide different perspectives on a problem.  You should make most use of every resource you can get including parents, teachers, and friends and cross check the information and opinions from different sources. Independent and critic thinking does not mean you keep your problems to yourself and thinking totally on your own.

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