Schoolchildren depend on mobile phones because technology is sometimes their only communications line to friends. But that same technology can be the conduit for cyberbullying, according to Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar, assistant professor of computer and information technology.
“Kids are usually not going to be forthcoming with issues of cyberbullying because they’re afraid of losing their technology,” she said. “As difficult as it is to believe, some teens would rather continue to be cyberbullied than have their Facebook page taken down or Instagram account shut down.”
Electronic harassment from emailed messages to social media posts cause problems for victims as well as parents, who need to know when and how to step into a difficult situation. Seigfried-Spellar said a “technology contract” works well to set boundaries about how a cellular phone should be used and what the parents expect as well as a promise to respect the youth’s privacy.