Using Gaming to Teach Kids About the Harms of Bullying

With the recent sad news of 12 year old Rebecca Sedwick’s suicide because of several months of cyberbullying I find myself with a lot of thoughts about how parents, kids, and educators can prevent further tragedies like this.  The Sheriff in the video above has pointed words for the parents and their kids who were involved in the bullying, words that every parent and kid should take to heart.  Rebecca’s bullies used several different Apps and Social Media sites to harass and bully her that we all should be aware of.  If parents find any of these Apps on their child’s device it is worth having a conversation about responsible use and what someone should do if they are bullied or see bullying.  Educators should be aware of these Apps and how students are potentially using them to harass and bully others.  Our schools should also have a comprehensive plan on how to educate students about the harms of cyberbullying and what to do if they see it.

Someone posted the article Virtual Role-Playing Teaches Kids the Harms of Bullying on my twitter feed today and I thought this could be a part of a comprehensive plan.  By using technology and the gamification of a challenging topic educators can give students the opportunity to step into a virtual world to battle a cyber problem.  The goal of the game system SchoolLife is to put Children into the shoes of a victim of bullying.  The idea is that experiencing other students’ points of view will help foster better relationships between students and reduce bullying.  Hopefully experiences like this can reduce bullying because just one story like Rebecca’s is way too many.

The CNN article Parents, beware of bullying on sites you’ve never seen give parents and educators an idea of the main Apps being used by kids to bully.   In my opinion just because someone has one or more of these Apps doesn’t mean they are involved with bullying but it is worth a conversation around responsible use and what to do if they see it.  Here are a few suggestions specifically for parents from the website stopbullying.gov (a great resource and guide for bullying prevention for parents, children, and educators):

Be Aware of What Your Kids are Doing Online

Talk with your kids about cyberbullying and other online issues regularly.

  • Know the sites your kids visit and their online activities. Ask where they’re going, what they’re doing, and who they’re doing it with.
  • Tell your kids that as a responsible parent you may review their online communications if you think there is reason for concern. Installing parental control filtering software or monitoring programs are one option for monitoring your child’s online behavior, but do not rely solely on these tools.
  • Have a sense of what they do online and in texts. Learn about the sites they like. Try out the devices they use.
  • Ask for their passwords, but tell them you’ll only use them in case of emergency.
  • Ask to “friend” or “follow” your kids on social media sites or ask another trusted adult to do so.
  • Encourage your kids to tell you immediately if they, or someone they know, is being cyberbullied. Explain that you will not take away their computers or cell phones if they confide in you about a problem they are having.

Infographic courtesy of CTIA Blog (http://blog.ctia.org/2013/08/20/parents-guide-cyberbullying/)

Other Anti-Cyberbullying Blogs:

http://drtimjordan.com/2013/09/25/taking-a-bite-out-of-online-bullying-part-2/#comment-634

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