vodaphonesurveyIn a recent survey released by Vodafone, 43% of teens believe that cyberbullying is a bigger problem than drug abuse.

So when we hear phrases such as, death by humiliation, it’s not a joke.

According to this latest research:

  • 41% of teens said cyberbullying made them feel sad, helpless and depressed
  • 26% felt completely alone
  • 18% experienced suicidal thoughts
  • 21% stay home from school due to cyberbullying
  • 38% don’t tell their parents they are being harassed online

Not telling their parents or an adult is an issue that has concerned experts and advocates for a long time. The reasons why kids don’t tell can range from fear of having their life-line removed (being shut-down from the Internet), to being ashamed of what is happening online – to retaliation from the bully (being called a snitch by friends). This is why offline parenting is so crucial to online life.

TeensOnline555Research has shown that friend to friend support is one of the successful ways of preventing and addressing cyberbullying.

October is Bullying Prevention and Awareness Month. Although we take this month to focus on this topic, including cyberbullying, it’s an issue we need to discuss on a regular basis with our children as well as learning ourselves how to combat cruelty online.

One of the biggest misconceptions people have is that digital harassment is limited to kids. On the contrary, according to PEW Research 73% of adults have witnessed online abuse, while 40% have been victims.

This is particularly disturbing because as an adult or especially as a parent, we should know better.

Everyone needs a friend no matter what age you are. You also have to be an example to your teens and tweens online – use your keystrokes for kindness. Stop before you comment rudely on someone’s post or publish a picture that may not be that flattering to someone. Especially pause for 24 hours before sending a sensitive email.

If someone is having a bad day, or recently lost a loved one — take a moment to send them a cyber-hug. It can make all the difference in the world. Social media is about connecting, networking, and most of all — reaching out to each other when we need each other most. Don’t just be there for the good times — give us some virtual strength during the difficult ones too.

It’s not about a thumbs down, it’s about a wrap-around….. reach-out those keystrokes for kindness and find an emoji that says – hey, I got your back.  Isn’t that what friends are for?

#BeStrong announces new emoji’s to help send cyber-support to those that are being digitally abused online.