AAPI Heritage Month: Safeguarding Your Child Online

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POSTED MAY 5, 2024

This blog was originally published for FOSI’s Good Digital Parenting platform. You can access the original post here.

AAPI Heritage Month: Safeguarding Your Child Online

by DR. ADAM COLLINS AND NANCY TIÊN

The internet has become a seamless part of our lives. As we all learn to interact more online, there’s greater potential for cyberbullying and its detrimental impact on youth. And with the emergence of generative AI, a top concern among teens is the potential for new forms of cyberbullying (FOSI, 2023).

At Act To Change, we work to end bullying and hate, including cyberbullying, with an added focus on impacted youth in the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. As parents and educators ourselves working in the bullying prevention space, we’ve put together a few points to help you recognize and combat cyberbullying. In honor of AAPI Heritage Month every May we seek to bring visibility to bullying in our community, especially the increase in bullying and hate impacting AAPI youth in recent years.

What is Bullying and Cyberbullying?

The first step in navigating cyberbullying is to understand how bullying is different from other types of aggression. For mean behavior to be bullying, it must be:

  1. Unwanted
  2. Repeated, or likely to be repeated
  3. Marked by an imbalance of power

If any of these three features aren’t present, the interaction may simply be a mean moment, discrimination, or a fight (Collins & Harlacher, 2023). Cyberbullying must include the same three features, but the harm is conducted through the use of computers, phones, or other electronic devices (Hinduja & Patchin, 2024).

Cyberbullying Warnings Signs

There are several warning signs parents should be aware of that may suggest their child is being cyberbullied or perpetrating cyberbullying (Hinduja & Patchin, 2023):

Targeted:

– They unexpectedly stop using their device

– They appear to be overly emotional (angry, sad) after using their device

– They seem anxious or jumpy when using their device

Perpetrating:

– They quickly switch out of apps or hide their screen when you are near

– They avoid discussions about what they are doing online

– They seem to have multiple online accounts or an account that is not their own

Impact of Cyberbullying

It’s important to note that youth of color, LGBTQIA2S+ youth, neurodivergent and/or disabled youth, and religious minority youth are more likely than their peers to experience bullying, including cyberbullying (see Rivara & LeMenestrel, 2016). During the COVID-19 pandemic, Asian American youth saw the greatest increase in cyberbullying based on race or color between 2019 and 2021 (Patchin, 2022). Our 2021 Asian American Bullying Survey Report found that 80% of Asian American youth have experienced bullying, in-person or online, and 70% have experienced or witnessed an increase in cyberbullying.

Bullying and cyberbullying can have a devastating effect on youth. Research shows that victims of bullying report symptoms of depression, anxiety, and self-harming behavior (see Collins & Harlacher, 2023). Children and teens who are victims are also at a higher risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. To be clear, bullying does not cause suicide, but it can be a contributing factor.  Bullying is a complex issue that can be made better or worse based on many factors such as the attitudes of your child’s teachers, what your family thinks about bullying, and the laws passed in your community.

The good news is that you can be part of the solution.

How to Address Cyberbullying

– Proactively develop healthy technology habits through Safety Cards for Your Devices and establish rules for using devices.

– Set boundaries to prioritize your child’s safety and establish safety agreements, such as the rules in these Family Online Safety Agreements.

– Keep an open dialogue with your children and take an active interest in their digital activity.

– Talk openly with your children about bullying, including cyberbullying. Help them learn how to react or respond when they witness or experience bullying.

If Your Child is Experiencing Bullying

– Make sure your child is safe and feels safe.

– Listen to your child, ask questions, and talk calmly about the problem.

– Collect evidence by taking screenshots.

– Report the incident to the school, even if it occurred after school hours. If the cyberbullying affects your child’s ability to learn in any way, it’s the school’s responsibility to address the issue.

– Report serious threats to school administrators and law enforcement.

– If the bullying is based on your child’s race, sex, or disability, contact the Office of Civil Rights.

If Your Child is Cyberbullying Others

– Stay calm, listen to your child, and ask questions to keep an open line of communication.

– Try identifying the root of the problem and why your child cyberbullied another child.

– Use a family online safety agreement and consider a loss of tech privileges until negative behaviors have been corrected.

– Remember that the problem is the behavior, not the child. Recognize mistakes and address the behaviors.

Get Connected

Connect with Act To Change to learn how we help build resilience and leadership skills for all youth, including AAPI youth:

Youth Ambassador Program: We develop and engage AAPI youth to effectively combat bullying in their communities through the chance to collaborate with AAPI leaders from across the nation.

Homeroom Anti-Bullying Program: Nominate your child’s school to have a conversation with AAPI influencers and lead the change to end bullying at your school.

Use Your Voice: Share your experience on our AAPI bullying survey to inform future programming at Act To Change.

AAPI Day Against Bullying and Hate: Join us in LA this May 18th in honor of Vincent Chin to “Imagine a Day Without (AAPI) Bullying” with panel discussions, workshops and interactive sessions around bullying awareness and prevention.

Digital platforms are here to stay as we find ways to enhance our daily lives and social interactions. Using these tips and resources are great ways to stay informed, prioritize your children’s online safety, and pass on healthy behaviors through Good Digital Parenting.

 

About the Authors:

Dr. Adam Collins is the founder of Envision Zero Bullying, lead author of Effective Bullying Prevention: A Comprehensive Schoolwide Approach, and serves as a Board Member and the Co-Vice Chair of Programming for the non-profit Act To Change. He has researched and implemented bullying prevention best practices for over 15 years at the state, national, and international level. His approach to ending bullying focuses on supporting the children involved and improving the systems around those children. His work has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, Teen Vogue, and Time.

With over a decade of experience in education, Nancy Tiên (she/her) is a Board Member with Act To Change, focused on anti-bullying education programming and policy, and a Program Associate with WestEd, specializing in educator training and technical assistance around culturally responsive systems. A child of Vietnamese immigrants, a first-generation college graduate, and former classroom teacher, her passion is to create equitable outcomes and welcoming and affirming spaces and systems for communities of color and marginalized identities.