The agreement when Rosie got an iPhone was that I'd have the log-in and password and would be able to check it at any time. I'm a big believer that there's a big bad world out there when it comes to social media and teens and I was right. I can't even begin to tell you how shocked I was to see what I consider to be cyberbullying almost immediately in middle school. Why do I say it that way? While some of these kids had a pretty clear idea of what they were doing, others probably had no clue. They probably didn't even give it a second thought and that's a problem.
Cyberbullying for those of you that don't know is a form of harassment. It's using electronic communication to hurt another person. Whether it's overt name-calling, asking an uncomfortable question on ask.fm or SnapChatting pictures over and over again to the kid not invited to the party, it's bullying. Plain and simple. With all the time our kids spend on their phones, if they're being bullied it can go on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's horrible.
But, cyberbullying doesn't just affect teens. If you're an adult and you're posting derogatory comments about a person or company repetitively, you're guilty of cyberbullying (and if your kids can see your behavior and they think it's okay, you're sending the wrong message). And, guess what? Online harassment is illegal. Better think twice before you do it again.
In the past year, I've seen some pretty shocking things on social media (and to protect my teen and others, I'm not going to give specific examples). So much so that I really wanted to do something about it. So, I've partnered with a couple of my business owner friends to put together the Stand Strong Against Cyberbullying campaign to try to bring awareness and education to as many people as possible in October.
As a blogger, I have the chance every single day to speak my mind and hopefully change a little corner of the world. However, I also own a marketing company so putting together a turn-key campaign that would have some legs made sense. So did starting in the dance world, where bullying can be pretty prevalent. Thanks to my friends at PowerHouse Dance and CenterStage Photography for helping to make this campaign a reality.
So, what can you do to help us out? Sign the Stand Strong Against Cyberbullying pledge. Commit to educate others and not cyberbully yourself and then pass it along. The more people we can get on board, the more visible the campaign becomes. While we can't completely stop cyberbullying, hopefully we can educate those that don't realize what it is and get them to stop. People should never use words as weapons, in person or online.
Want to learn more about bullying, social media and your kids. Check out these posts: