We’ve all been taught by our parents and teachers there are basic rules for good manners in everyday life. But, most likely our teenagers haven’t had manners lessons on the internet or netiquette.
There are some serious challenges facing young people and adults as both access to and advances in technology increase. It is a whole other ballgame when trying to communicate without the benefit of facial expression or being able to hear voice inflection. The guidelines for these good net manners are something adults should also remember as we sometimes stumble into an email argument unintentionally. Most importantly, what can young people, teens and adults do to use technology in a healthy, respectful manner which will hopefully prevent cyber-bullying. Here a few key points for teens and young people:
- Guard contact information. Don’t give your cell phone number, IM name or email address to anyone unfamiliar. Do NOT share passwords!!
- Don’t respond, don’t interact and don’t engage
- Leave the area or stop the activity (i.e. chat room, news group, online gaming area, instant messaging, etc)
- Save all abusive emails, text messages, web postings, URLs, dates & times
- Block senders whenever possible
- Understand that online actions can carry over into the offline world. They can cause serious real world damage, both emotional and physical
- Take a stand against bullying with your peers. Speak out whenever you see someone being mean to another person online or off
- AND, though it may seem difficult … Tell an adult if you feel threatened!
There is a great book by three individuals (Limber, Kowalski & Agatston) who have conducted research and focus groups with young people about cyber-bullying. Here are some of their quotes:
“My favorite part of MySpace is how I can change who my friends are at all times. If I have a falling out with a friend, I can delete them.” A 15 year old male
“Some of my friends have My Space parties. Basically, a bunch of kids get together with their laptops and all sign onto MySpace and start surfing together. The party takes off when they start surfing kids’ profiles who aren’t present. You can imagine what a gossip it is.” A 16 year old female
At Students Taking A Right Stand (STARS), we strongly encourage families to utilize some of the helpful information available on the web. Here are some internet sites that can be very effective in helping adults and young people address bullying.
HRSA’s “Take A Stand. Lend A Hand. Stop Bullying Now.” www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov
SAMHSA’s “Make Time To Listen, Take Time To Talk … About Bullying.”
For more information on this topic, please contact STARS, email@example.com or 615-279-0058.