According to the stopcyberbullying.org website, cyberbullying is defined as the action "when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones." However, when adults impersonate or threaten a teen using these technologies then this is termed cyberharassment.
Cyberbullying in the mobile environment involves sending hateful or threatening messages via mobile instant messaging, mobile chat or SMS messaging channels. It may also involve a teen impersonating another teen by creating a fake profile on a mobile instant messaging site, or it may be harassing another teen by sending large numbers of SMS messages. Another common cyberbullying tactic is to take photographs or video clips of a victim and then to circulate these images to every contact in their phonebook.
Advice to ParentsYou need to encourage your child to come to you - or another trusted adult - if they ever experience cyberbullying. You will need to be supportive of your child during this time. If you feel that the matter needs to be reported to the police then do so in the interest of ensuring the safety of your child. Some of the things you can tell your child are:
- Do not keep this a secret.
- Keep a record of cyberbullying messages as evidence if you decide to report the matter to the police.
- You can change their cellphone number or delete their account on a mobile instant messaging service to stop receiving bullying messages.
- They must not become a cyberbully in turn by sending out inflaming messages to another person when they are angry or hurt. There is no limit to how widely such messages can spread, and there are instances where children have been taken to court for defamation.