Cyberbullying is no joke

Many teens and kids think cyberbullying is funny, but it’s not, says Dr. Thomas Van Hoose, a clinical psychologist affiliated with UT Southwestern Medical Center.

“Cyberbullying can hurt the victim and the perpetrator,” Dr. Van Hoose says.

Using technology to communicate messages and images intended to hurt or embarrass another person can leave children emotionally scarred, and perpetrators could face legal consequences.

“Not having face-to-face interaction with the target of the ‘joke’ can lull kids into thinking that no one knows where the ‘joke’ came from,” Dr. Van Hoose says. “But even what seem to be anonymous posts can be traced.”

Tips for parents to minimize their child’s chances of becoming a cyberbully or victim include:

  • Put computers in an area where Internet use is hard to hide;
  • Educate kids about cyberbullying;
  • Talk with them about Internet use;
  • Know what they are doing on the Web;
  • Teach kids to never give out passwords or personal information;
  • Make sure kids know that online activity can be tracked and reported; and
  • Encourage them to come to you if a cyberbullying incident occurs.

Media Contact: LaKisha Ladson