Student Experiences with Reporting Cyberbullying

Most students who are bullied do not report their experiences to adults. This was true 30 years ago when I endured middle school and our research shows it largely continues to this day. I remember being surprised (though maybe I shouldn’t have been) to learn from our first pilot study undertaken 15 years ago that…

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Emoji as Threats in Student Messages and Social Media

When we speak to students in schools across the nation, we always focus on the positives of social media while also sharing case studies to underscore the reminder they frequently need to hear: “pause before you post.” While there are numerous examples of students missing out on college and university slots, scholarships, and employment opportunities…

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Cyberstalking

I was chatting with some of my students yesterday about cyberstalking, and just as I suspected, at least a few had experienced it and were able to share compelling stories about what happened. It reminded me of two times I personally dealt with it as well, one by a fellow student in undergrad that lasted…

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The Priority for Cyberbullying Prevention

With First Lady Melania Trump mentioning cyberbullying as the major social issue she would like to prioritize and tackle during her husband’s U.S. presidential administration, everyone in my line of work has been buzzing about what that could possibly mean. These last eight years have brought good progress with anti-bullying and anti-cyberbullying efforts by the…

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Discord: A Chat App Not Just For Gamers

It annoys me so much when well-intentioned adults label certain apps as “dangerous” or “evil.” I’ve recently heard such descriptive words about a relatively new app called Discord. Like most new platforms that have come down the pike, there is nothing inherently problematic about it as the majority of participants use it in positive, productive,…

Messenger Kids Isn’t the Problem, But Perhaps Part of the Solution

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood wrote Mark Zuckerberg a public letter today asking the Facebook CEO to shutter its recently released “Messenger Kids” app. The concerns raised by these well-meaning organizations and advocates center on the risks potentially created by the early adoption of technology among kids. I’m unpersuaded by their argument and feel…

Most Teenagers Aren’t Asking for Nude Photos

A recent New York Times headline caught my attention: “Teenagers, Stop Asking for Nude Photos.” Sage advice, I must admit, but I wondered where this was coming from. In the article, Psychologist Lisa Damour argues that we have long been warning children about the dangers (reputational and potential legal consequences) of sending sexually explicit images,…

Teens Talk: What Works to Stop Cyberbullying

Many people like to ask me what works to stop cyberbullying when it happens. While I have some ideas on this question (over 15 years of studying the problem will lead to more than a few thoughts!), Sameer and I also like to hear directly from students about what they think will work, and—maybe more…

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A Teen’s Perspective on Social Media

Each year, we like to share a teen’s perspective regarding their social media use so that youth-serving adults can be “in the know” as to what adolescents are up to these days. I hope it updates you and provides an instructive viewpoint on the way in which teens approach technology use, friendships, online hate –…

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Positive Post-It Day

In case you haven’t heard, Positive Post-It Day is a worldwide phenomenon – and it all began with a Canadian teenager in the fall of 2014 who wanted to flip the script on bullying. Alberta student Caitlin Haacke was bullied at school and threatened on Facebook with suggestions to take her own life. Instead of…

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The Social Bond: A Practical Way for Schools to Reduce Bullying

If you work in the youth safety space, you know that certain initiatives (such as resilience building) have focused on targets of bullying and cyberbullying. Other programming has concentrated attention on aggressors – to the kids who harass, humiliate, and threaten other youth offline and online. Here, restorative practices and social emotional learning (anger management,…

Digital Self-Harm

Digital Self-Harm: The Hidden Side of Adolescent Online Aggression

“You should jump off a roof and kill yourself.” “You’re pathetic and don’t deserve to be alive.” “If U don’t kill yourself tonight, I’ll do it for you.” Each of these comments was recently posted to a popular anonymous social media app. I was contacted by a police officer who was investigating the incident. We…

Be Careful Who You “Friend” Online: A Cautionary Tale

In our school assemblies, Sameer and I regularly talk with students about using social media safely and responsibly. One part of this discussion focuses on encouraging youth to only connect on private accounts with those they know and trust. In general, if a Facebook user, for example, has their privacy settings configured in a way…

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My Fulbright Award for Bullying and Cyberbullying Prevention

This past summer, I served as a Fulbright Specialist at the Anti-Bullying Centre (ABC) at Dublin City University (DCU) in Dublin, Ireland. It was an amazing experience. I just wanted to take a few minutes to share what it involved, who I spent time with, and how it made an impact – not just short-term,…

The Skinny on Sarahah

Sarahah is the latest social media application to create a stir. Simply put, Sarahah is a one-way, many-to-one anonymous messaging system that allows people to send messages to a particular person without the recipient knowing who sent them. These can come from people you know (from those in your phone contacts, for example) or from…

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Harmful Speech Online: At the Intersection of Algorithms and Human Behavior

    Last week, I attended a workshop at Harvard entitled “Harmful Speech Online: At the Intersection of Algorithms and Human Behavior.” Sponsored and organized by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Institute for Strategic Dialogue, and Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics and Public Policy, its goal was to “broadly explore harmful speech…

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How Machine Learning Can Help Us Combat Online Abuse: A Primer

Ten years ago, computer scientists would contact our Center and ask if we could give them thousands of examples of cyberbullying content – which they wanted to comb through to look for trends and patterns in how harm was inflicted. Nowadays, they don’t ask for data because it’s widely available for them to web scrape…

More on the Link between Bullying and Suicide

Last week I received an email from Martin Cocker, a friend and colleague who runs the Netsafe organization in New Zealand. Netsafe is a one-stop shop for all things related to online safety. If you are a New Zealander who is being mistreated online, or work with someone who is, Netsafe can help. Last year…

Blue Whale Challenge

When you sign up for the “Blue Whale Challenge,” you are given a series of tasks over a period of 50 days. One day you could be told to watch a scary movie at 4:20am, while on another you might be required to cut yourself. On the 50th day though, to win the challenge, you…

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Reflections on the 2017 World Anti-Bullying Forum

The inaugural World Anti-Bullying Forum was held in Sweden this week (where the cherry blossoms were blooming!), and I had the honor of representing the Cyberbullying Research Center and the International Bullying Prevention Association (IBPA) in attending. I am doing some work at Dublin City University for the first half of this summer, and so…

What to do About Teen Sexting

Over six years ago I wrote a post where I offered advice to teens who receive a sext. “Sexting” is when someone takes a naked or semi-naked (explicit) picture or video of themselves, usually using their phone, and sends it to someone else. We are mostly concerned with these behaviors as they occur among middle…

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How Parents Can Build Resilience With Activities, Movies, and Books

We have talked a lot about resilience over the last year, and have shared some practical ways to cultivate that ability. Today, I want to provide some additional tangible strategies to help you further. I have previously discussed that it is critical for kids to be placed intentionally in situations where they can discover their…

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The ABC Model to Build Resilience Against Cyberbullying

Resilience online is built in the same way as resilience offline. We must provide opportunities for youth to face social and relational problems head on, and to recognize their own strength, agency, and power to overcome them – do so within an environment of supportive resources (so they know you and I have their back!).…

League of Legends and Cyberbullying

League of Legends (or League for short) is the most popular multiplayer online game in the world, and takes place in a 3-D battle arena setting involving role-playing and real-time strategy elements into its live environment. Players in League (also known as “summoners”) are matched up with others depending on their skill and game level…