staying safe

How Good Are Nickelodeon’s Anti-Cyber Bullying Tips?

Following up on last year’s bullying special, Nickelodeon this week began airing anti-bullying PSAs aimed at its 2 to 14 audience. They are, well … fine.

In the above spot, starring the network’s Ashley Argota (True Jackson, VP) and Gage Golightly (The Troop), kids are given four easy-to-follow tips if they encounter a cyber bully: Sign-off. Block them. Don’t reply. Save it and share it.

Easy enough right? In many instances, these tips will work well, since exiting the chat room where your bully trolls around will be enough to block contact with him. But as we’ve seen in cases like Kameron Jacobsen — the 14-year-old New Yorker who took his own life after getting bullied on Facebook for being perceived as gay — so much cyber bullying is perpetuated by people we know. Classmates. Sports team opponents. Neighbors. Which means signing off and blocking a user, or simply ignoring him, generally isn’t enough to make the problem go away.

And while most of Nickelodeon’s target audience is too young to be on Facebook (which like most sites requiring personal information is only for those 13+), plenty of young kids still use the site regularly, or a “safer” alternative like Kidswirl. And if it’s not a social networking site, it might be an Internet-enabled video game where the abuse takes place. By which I mean: Cyber bullies can find you anywhere, especially if they’re motivated by some real life grievance. Which is why that last time, “save it and share it,” might be Nick’s most pertinent bullying tip, because at least then there will be a record of the harassment, and parents and administrators can get involved. Hopefully.