Over the past few months, many of us have been spending more time online. Whether it’s chatting with our grandparents, connecting with our friends, or doing our schoolwork, we have all changed the way we interact with people. Staying in touch with our friends online can be lots of fun, but it is important to ensure we are always treating people with kindness and respect.
We must keep in mind that just because we’re not seeing people in person, what we say or type affects them.
Sometimes, it can be hard to remember that when we say or type something unkind about someone either online, in a text, or in an email that it hurts their feelings. When this happens in-person, we can see their face and body language; we can tell by looking at the person that we have hurt their feelings.
However, when we type something unkind online, we cannot see the person’s reaction so we may not realize that we have hurt their feelings. Typing hurtful things about someone online is called ‘cyberbullying’.
• Typing something mean, unkind or untrue about someone in a text message or email
• Posting photos, comments or videos that could embarrass someone
• Spreading rumors or secrets about someone online
• Insulting or ridiculing someone on social media
• Harassing players in online games or in forums
Cyberbullying is particularly harmful because more people can see the hurtful messages – it is posted publicly or in a forum with a wider audience. Plus, there is no escape for the victim – because it is online the harmful messages follow them everywhere.
The Concerned Kids has a special puppet performance that explores the impact on the victim and the negative consequences for the perpetrator of cyberbullying. In “Cyberspace Odyssey”, our puppet friend, Nam, thoughtlessly posts a hurtful message on an online forum. That night, he is visited by a mysterious friend who takes him on a fantastic journey through time. Nam witnesses the effect his words have on someone he cares about, and he is forced to take responsibility for his actions. Nam learns that hurtful words are no less damaging when written on social media, and that his online actions can have dire consequences.
To stay safe online be sure you keep all of your passwords private (even from your friends!), learn about the safety and security features of any of the platforms you are on and make sure that you are comfortable with what you are posting about yourself online.
If you are experiencing cyberbullying, there are people out there who can help you. Find an adult that you trust to talk to about it and ask for help if that is what you want. Remember that you might not get the ‘right’ person to help you on your first try. If you are unsatisfied with this adult’s response, you can speak to another one.
If you aren’t sure who you want to speak to or you’d like someone else’s guidance, you can always call the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868.
If we all just remember to be kind to each other then cyberbullying would be defeated.
Once you’ve read this, go say something nice to someone you care about! Tell someone they’re a good friend, tell a sibling you think they’re smart, or tell your teacher that they’re doing a great job, and then give yourself a big hug for spreading kindness in the world!