Editor's Note: October is National Bullying Prevention Month. To help bring more awareness to this issue, we talked to Jennifer M., a relationship and parenting Expert on JustAnswer, with a focus on psychology. We asked her to share her insights on cyberbullying, specifically for adults.
This post is part of the Experts Helping Experts program where Experts teach fellow Experts new skills, share expertise, and discuss hot topics. To learn more, click here.
JA: Hi Jen, thanks for speaking with us today. First off, could you share your background with us?
Jen: I have been working on JustAnswer since approximately 2011 as a Relationship and Parenting Expert. I have 3 boys as well, and went to school for psychology.
JA: To make sure we're on the same page, could you explain what is cyberbullying and how is it different from traditional bullying?
Jen: Sure! Traditional bullying is done in a physical setting and usually involves children and teenagers. However, cyberbullying is done through digital forms, such as emails, social media, and text messages. It can range from someone sending a nasty text and spreading rumors of someone else to sharing private photos to a huge audience on social media. Unfortunately, we see too many cases where cyberbullying leads to suicide. What makes cyberbullying dangerous is the potential reach and it is a big problem for people of all age groups.
JA: You mentioned cyberbullying affects people of all age groups. What does it look like for adults and how big of a problem is it?
Jen: A recent PEW Research survey shows that 73% of adults experienced cyberbullying. As adults, it is crucial that we set a good example for our children and future generations. However, one of the truths of growing up is realizing that not all adults act like grownups.
Technology has enabled us to be more mobile and farther reach. While it's a blessing, it can be detrimental when used to attack or get revenge against others. Adults have more freedom and resources than kids and teenagers, so it's easier for adults to publicly shame others, even intentionally.
We are not in at time when you can separate what's personal and public. Everything you post online becomes public and can be in the hands of anyone and everyone. Therefore, it is extremely important that one is careful about not only what you post about yourself, but what you post about others as well. Before sharing something online, why not take a second to ask yourself...will this be helpful or hurtful to another? By taking this extra second, you can save a lot of potential embarrassment on your behalf.
JA: How to be mindful that you don’t become a cyberbully?
Jen: There is definitely a false sense of anonymity and security of the web that leads to an increase in cyberbullying. Social media is a huge arena where much cyberbullying takes place. For example, Facebook is not only a place where people can connect, but it has also become a place of hostility and harassment. One of the biggest myths about social media is that the interactions you have on social media does not follow you offline. That is false. When sharing posts and photos online, make sure that it doesn't negatively represent someone else. Even a goofy photo of your friends or family can end up being detrimental because you don't know how someone else might perceive it.
As I previous mentioned, it's always wise to take a second to think about things to share online. Re-read things you post, email or text to make sure the tone is not offensive.
JA: What tips would you give for new Experts to get acclimated with the Expert community and what tips would you give veteran Experts to be more welcoming?
Jen: I love being an Expert at JustAnswer, but I was also a victim of bullying in the beginning when I started just as many new Experts are. I believe many veteran Experts may feel threatened by new Experts as well as veteran Experts being annoyed by new Experts making unintentional mistakes. I would encourage veteran Experts to be confident within themselves to embrace new Experts and help them along. For new Experts I would encourage them to learn and not get discouraged. Focus on your goal, which is to help the community. No matter what category we are in, our main goal here is to help customers and give them a positive experience, so lets all work together to get that done.
We can not do it all ourselves. It takes a team of Experts to get the job done in giving customers a positive JustAnswer experience. Let's not allow cyberbullying to be a part of the Expert community, but rather let's maintain a warm welcoming environment for all Experts, customers, and everyone involved to enjoy.
JA: Thanks, Jen!