Bullying seems to have risen to a fatal level and can pose life threatening consequences often from just a few strokes on the keyboard or click of a computer mouse. We have all heard the horrific stories of students so severely bullied they have resorted to taking their own lives.
This week's eSchoolNews reports Bullying of teachers more damaging in an online era (June 23, 2012). It takes a look at the bullying of teachers and administrators as well. These activities seem so harmless and non-consequential to students hiding behind their computer screen.
How can we educate our students on the seriousness of this issue and prevent further tragedies?
I teach K – 6 grades Technology Literacy. I teach about 1,800 students over a two-week period. I use Professor Garfield from Thinkfinity (www.learninglab.org) to grades 4 – 6. With-in the lesson you have a short video that discusses Cyberbullying. After the lesson you have a TRY section, which is a short quiz. I use Cooperative Learning for the quiz section. In this way everyone is involved to talk over the group’s answer. The last section is the APPLY section. I continue with the Cooperative Groups. Now the students are give different situations when they see Cyberbullying happen and they now have to decide what will they do.
For grades K – 3, I use Hector’s World (http://www.cybersmart.gov.au/Young%20Kids/Hectors%20World.aspx). This website is from Australia. There are three sets of lessons for the students that deal with the topic of Cyberbullying and being safe on line. In the teacher’s section you are given discussion questions and activities that are for the young child.
On this same website, Cyber (Smart:) (www.cybersmart.gov.au) They have a complete program for all ages and also lessons for parents.
The students need to be taught at a very young age how to protect themselves from predators. These websites that I just talked about are age appropriate and gives you the platform to begin that conversations to the students of all ages.
Cyberbullying is one aspect of social networking. Colleen Brown raised some additional questions about rules for social networking which are important to consider--
We are all concerned with the effects that social networking has on relationships and interactions with others in our world. We’ve seen the results of networking gone wrong. We try to teach our kids about netiquette and cyberbullying. What are your own rules for making “friends” online and how you handle relationships on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter? What’s appropriate and inappropriate?
A good resource on netiquette rules is the Federal Trade Commission's Guidelines for Protecting America's Consumers: Social Networking Sites: Safety Tips for Tweens and Teens. This website also provides links to other organizations' websites that offer information on staying safe online.
Microsoft also offers some good online safety tips for children at http://www.microsoft.com/protect/parents/social/kidssocial.aspx.
Since your question was posted in the Thinkfinity Community, another discussion has appeared concerning social networking issues. I thought it might be helpful to share that link so you can see what others are saying about this topic.
Your question raises awareness of a very important issue that we as educators need to be proactive in teaching children about netiquette and cyberbullying.