With more and more people spending time online — and with younger and younger people getting access to computers and the internet — cyberbullying has certainly become an urgent and recurring concern.
When a child comes to you worried or anxious, complaining of having been bullied, don’t wave it off as though it was unimportant.
“Never tell the child or the victim, ‘just let it go’ or ‘just don’t go online’,” said Mrs Anita Low-Lim, Senior Director who oversees TOUCH Community Services’ Children & Youth Group of the award-winning Touch Cyber Wellness in Singapore, a non-profit organization established in 2001 primarily to combat game addiction but has since expanded its services to include growing problems brought out by the internet, including cyberbullying.
It’s a difficult problem to pin-down, cyberbullying, given that there aren’t any hard or fast definition of what it is, so “we look at the consequences, such as victims feeling threatened, embarrassed, helpless. They are humiliated and shamed,” explains Mr Yao Weixiong, Shem, assistant manager of the organization.
Explains Anita, while it’s important for parents or friends of the victim to validate their feelings, “it’s more important to help the child overcome it.”
Cyberbullying often affects the mental health and wellness of children. Among the many effects include becoming depressed, doing self-harm, and developing eating disorders.
Says Shem, mental health has become a bigger concern in the last five years. “We really need to try and identify the problems, because often, the victims of cyberbullying become bullies themselves.”
But as more and more of us spend more and more time online, Shem and Anita say we also have roles to play as bystanders. “When you see someone being bullied, you have to say something about it. It’s important to speak up for that person.”
And perhaps, in this way, we can help contribute in making the internet a safer space for everybody.
Creating a safer digital media landscape are among the concerns put in the spotlight at the 14th conference of ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information (AMRI) in Singapore last week.
It recognized that digital communications have become a big part of our lives and as such, approved the adoption of a set of core values on digital literacy — including empathy, responsibility, authenticity, discernment, and integrity — that should help the public navigate the digital media landscape safely and responsibly. — LA, GMA News