You’re an ace in keeping an eye out for pushing, shoving, and name-calling. But now teachers have a new form of bullying to deal with: cyberbullying. A lot of bullying that happens now is online. It may feel like this invisible part of your classroom might be impossible to monitor, but with the right tools, cyberbullying can be easily managed. We’re here to fill you in on everything you need to know about social media bullying and how to stop it in your classroom.
Types of Social Media Bullying
Social media has set up bullying to take on several ugly forms. Although online bullying can rear its ugly head in many ways, these are some of the most common you’re likely to see in your classroom. Understanding them will better prepare you to step in when problems arise.
- False rumors or threats: When students share each other’s private or sensitive information, they are–knowingly or unknowingly–bullying.
- “Warning wars”: Students report a classmate’s post as inappropriate, even if it isn’t, in order to get the classmate kicked off the social media platform.
- Taking Control of a Classmate’s Account: Students who hijack a classmate’s account often do so to post harmful or embarrassing things.
- Catfishing: Students pretend to be someone else using a fake account to trick a classmate into thinking they are developing a relationship with someone who doesn’t exist.
- Fan Pages or Community Groups: These pages or profiles target a classmate in a negative way.
The Warning Signs of Online Bullying
According to StopBullying.gov, there are five recognizable signs of cyberbullying:
- Becoming frantic about whatever is happening on their phone or electronic device.
- Trying to hide their phone or electronic device when anyone approaches.
- Suddenly shutting down their social media accounts.
- Avoiding social interactions.
- Showing symptoms of depression, a sudden lack of motivation, or a loss of interest in class activities. This could also include a sudden change in behavior.
In you notice any of these signs in your classroom, you should watch the student closely and approach the situation delicately.
Tips for Managing Social Media Bullying
There are many approaches you can take to stop social media bullying. No matter the approach, though, it’s best to do so with sensitivity as bullying is often complicated and layered.
Hold a Private Meeting
If you think a student is being bullied on social media, set up time with them after class to talk privately. This will establish a safe space where they can have an honest discussion.
Bring in the Parents
Online bullying extends beyond your classroom, so it might be a good idea to involve other adults. Consider bringing in the student’s parents to discuss what you’re seeing in the classroom. Maybe they’ve noticed a change at home, too.
Prompt a Reflective Writing Exercise
Asking students to reflect on what’s going on inside and outside of the classroom – and what’s happening online – increases their self-awareness. This activity can accomplish two things: Some students may open up about being bullied, and students who are cyberbullying others may see the ways they hurt others.
Encourage Group Work
Class activities that stress students working together are effective for preventing bullying. As students interact with and learn more about each other, they develop a classroom community. Monitor and change up groups often to ensure a good mix of socializing.
Stand as a Positive Role Model
As the leader of the classroom, you have the power to create an inviting and inclusive environment. Celebrating and demonstrating positive behaviors help create a classroom where students feel more comfortable and able to learn.