Beating online bullies

NAVIGATOR: Dr Michael Carr-Gregg says flexible thinking is a key to helping teenagers through the dangers of the internet.
NAVIGATOR: Dr Michael Carr-Gregg says flexible thinking is a key to helping teenagers through the dangers of the internet.

CYBERBULLYING cannot be beaten by logging off a computer and students need more help so they can learn to become more resilient and ignore it.  

The message is just part of the advice that Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, a child and adolescent psychologist and chairman of the National Centre Against Bullying, will offer today  during a visit to Macquarie College in Glendale. 

Dr Carr-Gregg said bullying and cyberbullying exacerbated mental health issues suffered by youth including depression, anxiety, self-harm and substance abuse: ‘‘The gun is already loaded and bullying and cyberbullying simply pulls the trigger.’’  

With research showing one in 10 students become victims of cyberbulling, Dr Carr-Gregg will advise students in Years 10, 11 and 12 at Macquarie College on how they can use strategies to better protect themselves on the internet, but also how they can be more resilient in life and learn to put things in perspective.

‘‘Probably the most important thing I will say is that if you can’t change something you can always change how you think about it and  there are huge benefits in having flexible thinking,’’ he said.

‘‘So if you are bullied it’s much more healthy to see it as a product of nothing to do with you but much more about the insecurities of the people doing it to you.’’

Dr Carr-Gregg will also discuss cyberbullying policies with staff  and meet students’ parents to encourage them to play a greater role in supervising their children’s access to the computer and mobile phone and watch for tell-tale signs that their child is being bullied online. He has also mooted the introduction of a ‘‘digital driver’s licence’’ which would require students to pass an online exam of appropriate computer use before they were allowed to take tablets or mobile phones into the playground.

‘‘Not being connected [to the internet] is simply not an option therefore  we have to make sure these children have the knowledge and strategies to use the net in a safe, smart and responsible way,’’ Dr Carr-Gregg said.

College principal Dr Bruce Youlden said Dr Carr-Gregg’s visit was part of the school’s educational forum and designed to help students, staff and parents navigate through ‘‘a pretty challenging environment’’.