On Saturday, May 4th, The Digital Arts Experience in White Plains hosted its first ever “Cyberbullying, Sexting and the Dangers of Social Media” workshop. The 90-minute presentation was facilitated by Director of Communications of Silverback Social, Cristin Grogan, who exerted not only her insight and expertise, but passion on the topic.

We feel very strongly that cyberbullying is a serious issue that needs to be addressed, particularly when stories of cyberbullying happen so close to home. The workshop covered the dangers of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and included cyberbullying, sexting and privacy issues as well as how to identify signs if your son or daughter is the victim of internet harassment. It is important for you and your child to understand the impact of his or her actions online.  The workshop provided the attendees with the tools to monitor their child’s interactions on social media.

What is Cyberbullying?
“Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology…including devices…such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat and websites.” It is anonymous, constant, and wide audiences see it and can participate in it. The victim can’t escape and the bully can escape punishment and cannot see the effects of his/her actions.

Where does it happen?
Email, texts, instant message, chatrooms, blogs, polling site (ask.fm), Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, Snapchat and any other social media platform.

What are the signs?
Feelings of guilt or self-blame, sleep difficulties, wanted to skip school or certain classes, going home sick a certain time everyday, lower self-esteem, depressed tendencies, ongoing sadness, health problems, poor performance in school, violent tendencies, self inflicted injuries, sudden interest in death, reckless behaviors, saying “can’t handle things anymore”, social media postings that are are out of the ordinary, dramatic changes in appearance, insomnia, anxiety, mood swings, addiction to social media, obesity, self destructive acts.

What can I do?

Take Steps to Monitor
Supervise your child’s computer use – keep in a public place, learn about the sites your child visits. Encourage your child to come to you if he/she witnesses cyberbullying. Make internet use a privilege that can be taken away. Be aware of what personal info he/she shares online. Have a no phones policy at night – place all household phones on a single charging station.

Teach Digital Citizenship
Teach your children to conscious of how they represent themselves online and how the world can see everything that that they write, share, etc. Let them know that they have rights and responsibilities online & set age appropriate expectations. Teach your children to think before they post – everything on the internet can be seen by colleges, employers etc.

If need be, monitor your child’s activities
Mac & PC have built in parental controls. If more advanced monitoring is needed, sites light McGruff Safeguard, Sector Pro, Mobistealth and others allow you to see what sites your child is visiting and what he/she is saying.

The Digital Arts Experience will be hosting another Cyberbullying workshop on Saturday, June 29th from 11AM-12PM. To register for the event, visit our sign-up page.