Cyberbullying in Virtual Classrooms and How to Curb It

Cyberbullying in Virtual Classrooms and How to Curb It

The recent COVID-19 outbreak demanded a shift in everyday strategies from everyone in the world. Companies had to shift to a work-from-home system while schools had to adapt to online classrooms. And while the workforce has found its footing in the online sphere, schools and students still struggle a year on. And for more reasons than one. 

Student attendance, usage of incorrect teaching tools, and the inability of teachers to connect with their students are all prominent issues virtual classrooms face today. But perhaps there is another that routinely slips through attention when discussing modern classroom methods. This is the issue of cyberbullying. With children spending more time online than ever before, many teachers have witnessed an influx in cyberbullying among their students in online classrooms.

According to a recent study by Security.org, roughly 21% of students between ages 10 and 18 have reported cyberbullying. A study by L1ght reported a 70% increase in hate speech and a 40% increase in online toxicity among students on online platforms. The findings came after analyzing communication on millions of websites, discussion boards, and gaming platforms.  DoSomething.org—a non-profit digital platform focusing on social change—has also estimated around 37% of students, ages 12 to 17, falling victim to cyberbullying, with 30% reporting these instances more than once. It’s happened more than once. All of this is compounded with research consistently placing victims of cyberbullying at higher risk of suicidal behaviors and self-harm.

Shifting to a remote studying environment also makes it easier for students to continue cyberbullying and target a larger pool of victims, making them more susceptible to this problem. And with online classrooms to continue throughout 2021 in various countries, schools and parents need to be ready to address cyberbullying and encourage a safer learning environment for their students. This begins by requiring parents, teachers, and other support staff to learn the signs of trouble and implement strategies to focus on positive digital citizenship.

4 Ways to Curb Cyberbullying in Virtual Classrooms

1- Noticing the signs of cyberbullying in virtual classrooms

It is first pertinent to know how it begins and how to detect it. This is true for cyberbullying too. This is where the role of teachers and parents comes in, and they should note any changes in student engagement or individual behavior.

Signs of cyberbullying can be subtle. It can start off with your child expressing hesitancy in turning their cameras on during video lessons. Feelings of angst, frustration, and depression are also commonly associated with victims of cyberbullying. Present research on child bullying shows that children who display signs of anxiety while using their devices avoid talking about their online activity. Spending lesser time online could also be a sign that your child is battling cyberbullying. Parents should be on top of things when finding signs in their children that may hint that they might be instigating cyberbullying. Some of these hints include hiding their screens, having multiple accounts online, or avoiding discussions about their online activity.

2- Using tech tools to promote online safety and digital citizenship

Today, many educational technology platforms feature built-in options that have been developed solely to mitigate cyberbullying. Google for Education, Lightspeed Systems Classroom, and GoGuardian are all popular tools that feature safety tools to mitigate inappropriate online activity and promote digital citizenship.

The Be Internet Awesome game featured on Google for Education is a great way for students to learn about the importance of online safety. It also encourages them to work together to fight against bullying. Similarly, GoGuardian is also an educational tool that emphasizes internet safety. Their web filter offers teachers the ability to monitor and manage any device in their network. And YouTubes filtering options, parents and teachers can block offensive comments, keywords, live chats, and even complete video categories. Teachers can also share student activity directly with parents using its parent reporting app.

3- Ensuring a positive learning environment online

Understanding the signs that a child may be partaking in cyberbullying or is the victim of such an activity is important, but preventing the act altogether is much better. The best way to get this going is to initiate a positive climate and introduce measures that highlight student safety online.

To successfully enable such an environment, teachers should highlight the risks and effects linked with cyberbullying. Additionally, schools should have forums or online portals that help them report instances of cyberbullying.Today, many schools in the US implement a series of cyberbullying resources intended for parents and students and have reporting portals linked on their websites. This way, schools can weed out the instances accurately and quickly and ensure parents have the necessary resources to help their children cope with such situations.

4- Use monitoring apps or parental control software

The final and surefire tool in the school and parent’s arsenal is the conventional monitoring app or parental control software. These prove to be the best deterrents against cyberbullying. 

XNSpy is perhaps best suited for this purpose than most. With the vast range of devices it supports and a plethora of options available for parents and teachers alike, XNSpy is the defacto solution for cyberbullying. The app can be installed on iOS and Android phones and tablets and can be used to silently monitor your child’s activity and reports it to you. You can even remotely access the devices they use and check any aspect, including the students they’ve been interacting with. And with its screen-recording feature, parents can have ample evidence to bring forward to the school for reporting. Effective measures can then be promptly taken with the help of the activities recorded by Xnspy.

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