Drama is a part of every person’s life . . . especially teenagers.
In the past, drama was easy to spot—it happened face to face and everyone knew who said what. But with the rise of the Internet and social media, drama has found its place in the digital world. Digital drama, more commonly known as cyberbullying, is a growing problem and chances are one, if not all, of your few will eventually experience it.
Cyberbullying is inflicting willful and repeated harm, torment, embarrassment, or harassment through the Internet, by cell phone, tablet, or other interactive technology, usually involving various social media platforms, and it’s possible that one of your students is subject to this kind of behavior.
Cyberbullying usually takes place from a physically distant location, whether behind a computer screen or through an app, and more often than not the bullies themselves are anonymous. The effects of cyberbullying can quickly snowball. The use of technology and social media allows a limitless number of people to fall victim to cyberbullying or become cyberbullies themselves.
So what should you do if you find out that one of your students is the victim of cyberbullying or digital drama? Here are three important things for you to remember:
- Be sure to acknowledge how your student feels and remain calm. Get their perspective on what could resolve the situation.
- Say something like: “Thank you so much for telling me about this. How does it make you feel when you get treated this way? What do you think would help make this situation better?”
Make sure your student feels safe and secure.
- Your student came to you because they trust you. Make sure that you’re a safe place that your student can share what’s going on in their life and that you are a person who can help them.
- Say something like: “I’m going to help you. We’ll walk through this together.”
Make an action plan.
- Try to come to a decision that you mutually agree upon. Make sure they understand the importance of involving school officials or local authorities if necessary. And follow up with them!
- Say something like: “Let’s talk about what we might do next. We might need to bring other people into the conversation so that we can try to prevent this from happening again. Is that okay?”
Your conversation is the first of many, so remember this when you enter into the conversation. You’re in a unique position to help your students combat and defeat digital drama!
By Mitch Blankenship