Saturday, February 09, 2013

a snow day - kids reach out for help online

This past Friday most of the NE coast schools were closed for the blizzard. When I was growing up, snow days meant we could go sledding, build snowmen and forts or lay on the sofa reading books with a cup of hot chocolate. This Friday, however, WiredSafety and our StopCyberbullying helpline received four times the normal number of inquiries and calls for help. Why? We're not certain, but think it has to do with the brief break in the school schedule and the time and need to report cyberbullying. It only reminds us that if our kids spent more time building snow forts and throwing snowballs, they might have fewer problems online. Many cyberbullies act out for entertainment. They do it to fill boring time. And targets of cyberbullying will feel better when they are laughing and ducking well-aimed snowballs than sitting in their rooms brooding over online insults. Our studies have shown that online drama is seriously reduced with kids who are athletes. Whether it's the reduced time, energy or focus, or working off excess teen hormones and cortisol, offline sports reduces online angst. So, put on your mittens and UGGs and laugh a little with your kids. It's good for everyone and will keep them safer online. Who knew?