Is this bullying?

by John

Yesterday my 12-year old son said he wanted to buy an ipod touch. Asked about a reason for this sudden desire when he already has multiple music-playing devices, he answered that ¨all¨ his friends have one and use one in the coach taking them to their regular soccer games.

Probed a little more, it transpired that, during a school outing, many kids had a mobile phone or ipod touch, and took photos of each other. One girl took a picture of our son that made him look ¨funny¨ and posted it on facebook which made him feel embarrassed. He now wants a device that can take pictures to take ¨revenge¨ on that girl. Hence the need for an ipod touch (since we won´t let him have a mobile yet).

There is a fine line between bullying and friendly fun. The problem with social networking is that, what was before just a private joke between friends can quickly degenerate in a public shameful experience, even if it was not meant that way by the initiator.

With these social networks, children (and many adults) have been given a powerful tool to communicate, but have never been taught how to use it properly and general "netiquette". They are learning by experience, a dangerous road given the immediacy of consequences. Talking to them openly about what to post, how to post, thinking of the reactions of others, etc, is a valuable teaching/learning opportunity.

In our case, this experience gave us the opportunity to talk about cyberbullying with our son: how to deal with this incident; how to report problems, small incidences or continuous harassment; the futility and danger to take revenge, and become himself a bully; how to carefully use these networks which can be fun but also very tricky...

Our son will probably get a new ipod touch soon, but he will have to buy it with his own pocket money...

Comments for Is this bullying?

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Oct 13, 2010
by: Carl Norman

I think any form of humiliation whether it be in front of other people or just you and them can be construed as bullying, but I also think that we blow the term out of proportion somewhat...its a bit like being PC, we can all take it too far instead of nipping it in the bud right at the start.

I teach anti bullying techniques within my self-defence/martial arts classes and the kids find it very helpful, on top of that i also teach my adults how to look more confident in certain situations.

For information on confidence building techniques and self defence classes go to there you will find links to my blog and hopefully other useful resources!

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