With the school year underway, experts caution children do not have to be in a classroom or school yard to be bullied.
Clemson psychology professor Robin Kowalski told South Carolina Radio Network that cyberbullying is something parents have to be aware of and monitor what their kids are doing on the Internet without being overbearing.
“We did focus groups with middle school kids and most kids wanted their parents to search the local histories of their computers. They wanted their parents to ask them where they were going online,” Kowalski said. “This is their phrase, not ours. And I think it’s very appropriate, what the kids said is that they wanted supervision not ‘snoopervision.’”
Kowalski said that there is usually an overlap between cyberbullying and traditional bullying behavior, with some researchers saying only 10 percent of children are involved in cyberbullying independent from traditional bullying behavior.
Kowalski said kids who are being cyberbullied need to tell someone, an adult would be ideal, but anyone can be of help. “If children in particular know that other people are experiencing it, I think it increases the probability that they will tell somebody. Even if it’s just a friend,” said Kowalski.
Online gaming is the primary vehicle for cyberbullying for elementary school-aged children, but social media accounts for most cyberbullying in later life.