Thursday, February 20, 2014

What Ages Are Impacted by Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying typically starts at about 7 years-of-age (younger in very connected communities) and usually ends (as “cyberbullying”) around 15. After then, the cyberharassment continues, but it changes. It usually becomes sexual harassment or is done for revenge against a former boyfriend, girlfriend, or former friend.

It is interesting to note that high school students deny that cyberbullying exists in high school.
Because high school students insist that “cyberbullying” is for middle schoolers and something that happens before they mature into high schoolers, Parry doesn’t call it “cyberbullying” in high school. She calls it “cyberharassment” or "digital drama" instead.

Many cases of cyberbullying also occur right after a child receives their first IM or cellphone account when they often try to see what they can get away with. Some don’t appreciate the consequences of their actions. (Many stop when they understand the consequences or how much their actions are hurting others, which points to the need for early education.)

Password theft and misuse and the theft of points or game “gold” from their friend’s game account are often the earliest forms of cyberbullying among 6- to 7-year-olds. Interestingly, the younger kids use extortion as their preferred method of traditional cyberbullying.

Parry is seeing a peaking of cyberbullying in fourth to fifth grade and then again in seventh to eighth grade.
Cyberbullying has been trending younger and younger as the kids are using these technologies at earlier ages than ever before. Virtual worlds, such as Webkinz Jr. and Disney’s Club Penguin and Fairies, become popular with kids as young as three or four. PBS and other trusted kid-brands are getting involved with kid-social worlds, too.

At the same time we are seeing cyberbullying trend downward in age, it is also trending upwards as a result of the growth of social networking sites and texting. 

There have even been cases in law school. (As defined, remember that cyberbullying is only between or among minors, and technically this would fall into the “cyberharassment” category. Cyberharassment of adults by adults began before children had access to the Internet and continues to grow.)

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