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Cyber Bullying and Online "Fights"

People sometimes get angry. It's normal, nothing to be ashamed of. The trouble with expressing anger on the Internet is that it's sometimes difficult to resolve disputes. For one thing, you don't have the normal clues you get when you're with someone in person. When people are communicating with text, or in writing, sarcasm and some humor can be insulting instead of funny. It's difficult to know the intensity of someone's feelings and it's very hard to resolve emotional disputes that occur online. More recently cyber bullying has become a disturbing trend online. Recent research has shown that cyber bullies are also at risk for other online threats.

The best defense is to avoid getting into online arguments or disagreements. That doesn't mean people shouldn't speak their minds in forums, newsgroups, and chat sessions, but it does mean that you should treat others with respect and try not to use words that could be offensive to others. If you are going to use humor or sarcasm, you can sometimes avoid misunderstandings by using emoticons (smileys) that express emotions: A simple ":-)" (for "grin") next to a statement can make all the difference between a hostile response and a collective laugh.

Ways to prevent kids from getting into online fights include:

  • Discuss with kids how to deal with anger.
  • Consider counseling, if kids have serious problems dealing with anger.
  • Inform kids that it's not their fault if someone is rude, obnoxious, belligerent, or mean.
  • Teach your kids not to respond to comments that are mean and provocative.
  • Learn more from CyberBully411, a resource from Internet Solutions for Kids.
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