Have you ever seen an incident or accident when you’re out shopping and thought that somebody else would deal with it? Well, essentially this is the bystander effect. Everybody thinks someone else is going to act. Increasingly, the bystander effect is playing a large role in how children communicate when they are online. When we asked primary school children about their experience of cyberbullying as part of our Zeeko All Ireland Digital Trend Report, 74% of 3rd class pupils and 77% of 5th class pupils said that they had been cyberbullied or have experienced cyberbullying happening to people around them. These people included their school friends, and/or their friends and family. It is important that all of us find ways to be champions for a safer online experience to help reduce the chance of cyberbullying taking place.
So what is the best way to make a positive impact of the bystander effect? One of the most effective ways to counter the bystander effect is to encourage your child to report inappropriate content to you, their teacher or their Chatbudi. Remember this is best done if you have already created a Tell, No Blame environment, where your child knows that it is ok and safe to tell, without fear of punishment. Remind your child that they should also block a person who is sending them inappropriate or upsetting messages. Encouraging them to tell their friends about the Stop Block Tell, Rule is also a way to promote a safer internet experience for your child and their classmates and wider circle of friends.
Talking to your child about how they can help someone they know who is being bullied is also important. Encourage your child not to add to comments being made online about another child. Remind your child of the power of telling another adult, in particular a teacher about what a classmate or friend is experiencing online.
Essentially it is important to encourage your child not to be a passive bystander or one who implicitly supports a bully when they see cyberbullying occurring. Helping your child to feel that they are equipped to deal with cyberbullying they may encounter themselves, or may see happen to others is a very positive step. Our recent blog on How to Spot the Signs of Cyberbullying offers greater detail on dealing with cyberbullying.
As the saying goes ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, helping to find innovate ways to tackle cyberbullying needs to involve everyone, parents, teachers and children themselves. Ultimately it is the responsibility of the entire community to ensure that the bystander effect becomes a positive force in the fight against cyberbullying.
The Zeeko Internet Safety Guide offers more comprehensive advice on keeping your child safe online. You can buy a copy of the book here.