Digital Wellbeing should be taught in schools
Recent surveys report that nine out of ten teenagers between 13-17 are active on social media. To parents of teenagers and secondary school teachers across Ireland this figure will probably come as no surprise. Equipped with mobile phones, computers, tablets, and online video games, teenagers are more interconnected than ever before. Without a doubt there are lots of benefits to this constant connection they have with their peers, but it is also important to consider the potential downsides.
Certainly, what is most alarming is the link between the increased use of social media and the increase of reported cyber bullying cases amongst students which has almost doubled since 2007. In a compilation of studies between 2007 and 2019 of 25,000 students, Justin Patchin found that on average over this period 28% (7,000) of all students surveyed had fallen victim to some form of cyberbullying and 11% (2,750) said they had been a victim of cyberbullying within the last 30 days. With many cyberbullying victims claiming the perpetrator is a peer within the same school there is clearly a problem here which needs addressing.
There is no quick fix or solution which can solve this problem however here are three steps that all schools should take to help their students.
1: Implement a school-wide anti-bullying curriculum for students to make them aware of different types of cyberbullying and techniques to avoid any unwanted attention online.
2: Set strict anti-cyberbullying rules and ensure that students are aware of the consequences if they do not adhere to the rules.
3: Train the school staff and invite parents to meetings which teach them both about cyber-bullying and what to look out for if their children / students might be on the receiving end or the perpetrator of any online harassment.
Does your school have any of these measures already in place? If not we highly recommend implementing at least one of the three and surveying students anonymously to see if it has had any impact.