Cyberbullying & Digital Drama

It seems like there are new cyberbullying stories (also known as “cyber bullying" or “cyber–bullying”) in the headlines each day. The effects of cyberbullying can be devastating for everyone involved. Cyberbullying statistics have shown that modern technology with its ability to increase our connectivity can also be the perfect platform for bullying.

Students can learn what to do if they are involved in a cyberbullying situation as well as ways of how to stop cyberbullying by exploring the roles people play and how individual actions — both negative and positive — can impact their friends and broader communities. Students are encouraged to take the active role of upstander and build positive, supportive online communities.

What to Know

It’s time to know the cyberbullying facts. Online cruelty, also referred to as cyberbullying, takes place whenever someone uses digital media tools such as the Internet and cell phones to deliberately upset or harass someone else, often repeatedly. While spreading rumors and bullying is nothing new for kids, online tools can magnify the hurt, humiliation, and social drama in a very public way.

Cyberbullying can take a variety rumors, or posting cruel comments or images online. The feeling of being anonymous or “removed” from a target in an online environment can encourage a kid who normally wouldn’t say anything mean face-to-face to act irresponsibly or unethically. With the effects of cyberbullying ranging from low self-esteem to depression to thoughts of violence or suicide, it is important for parents, teachers and students alike to learn how to prevent cyberbullying and stop it in its tracks.

Why Teach It

Students will…

  • consider ways to create positive online communities rooted in trust and respect.
  • learn to identify, respond to, and limit the negative impact of cyberbullying and other unethical or harmful online behaviors.
  • recognize their own role in escalating or de-escalating online cruelty as upstanders, rather than bystanders.

When kids misuse online or mobile technology to harass, embarrass, or bully others, they can do real and lasting harm. Nothing crushes kids’ self-confidence faster than humiliation. And just imagine a public humiliation sent instantly to everyone they know. Sadly, hurtful information posted on the Internet is extremely difficult to prevent or remove, and millions of people can see it. As more and more states take a harsher stand with new cyberbullying laws, it is important to know how to stop cyber bullying in its tracks. Teachers and parents can help kids think about the consequences of their online actions — before they even occur. When guiding students, it’s important for them to understand that they have a choice in all of their online relationships. They can say something positive or say something mean. They can create great community support around activities or interests, or they can misuse the public nature of online communities to tear others down.

Key Vocabulary

cyberbullying: the use of digital media tools such as the Internet and cell phones to deliberately upset or harass someone.

drama: the everyday tiffs and disputes that occur between friends or acquaintances online or via text. Note: Unlike cyberbullying, which involves repeated digital harassment toward someone, drama is broader and more nuanced. That being said, kids and teens sometimes use the term drama to distance themselves from emotionally difficult behavior. Digital drama can still feel very real to students, lead to hurt feelings, and even damage friendships. In some cases, digital drama can escalate into an offline fight – either verbal or physical.

hate speech: making cruel, hostile, or negative statements about someone based on their race, religion, national origin, ability, age, gender, or sexual orientation.

target: a person who is the object of an intentional action.

offender: a person who has a malicious intent to hurt or damage someone.

bystander: a person who does nothing when they witness something happening.

upstander: a person who supports and stands up for someone else.

escalate: to increase or make more intense.

de-escalate: to decrease or make less intense.