Teens and Tweens: Social Media and Cyberbullying

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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- More than 40 percent of kids in the United States have been bullied online, which has become known as cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is defined as tormenting, threatening, harassing or embarrassing another person using the internet or other technologies, like cell phones. Cell phones are actually the most common medium for cyberbullying. A main reason we have seen an influx of cyberbullying in recent years, is the fact that it is anonymous. It is easier to bully in cyberspace than it is face-to-face and a bully can pick on someone with less risk of getting caught. Also, bullies can enlist the participation of others who would be much less likely to bully face-to-face.  People who would normally be quiet bystanders become active participants online; the detachment in cyberspace makes this easier.

Individuals who are being cyberbullied should not respond to offensive emails, texts or social media posts made by the bully. They should also enlist the help of parents and/or teachers, and save evidence so school officials, internet providers or police can deal with the situation properly. For parents, it is important to let your kids’ teachers know if cyberbullying is occurring, as it is usually an extension of bullying that is already taking place at school.

Cyberbullying can be just as harmful as face-to-face bullying, therefore it is important for parents to monitor their child’s cell phone and internet activity, and if repeated, excessive harassment is suspected, it may be time to contact a medical professional. Here in the community, Cone Health Center for Children has an exceptional network of pediatricians, behavioral health specialists and other related medical professionals dedicated to educating and counseling children and families on cyberbullying and how to intervene if it becomes a problem.

Spokesperson Background:

Dr. Martha Perry is an adolescent medicine specialist and the medical director of Cone Health Center for Children and the Pediatric Care Division of Cone Health Medical Group. Dr. Perry received her Doctor of Medicine from University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1999. She completed her residency in Pediatrics at Boston Medical Center and Boston Children’s Hospital from 1999 to 2002, and a fellowship in Adolescent Medicine at University of California, San Francisco and Boston Children's Hospital from 2002 to 2005. She is Board Certified in both General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

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