What Is Cyberbaiting and How to Prevent It?

Ideas for teachers dealing with cyberbaiting issues


Globally, one in five teachers has personally experienced cyberbaiting or knows another teacher who has, according to the Norton Online Family Report.

Cyberbaiting is a version of cyberbullying where students taunt their teachers to the point of an outburst. Then, they capture the teacher’s reaction with a camera phone and post the video online for everyone to see. Aside from suffering humiliation and embarrassment, some teachers are being fired over the videos for losing their cool in the classroom.

Meanwhile, the problem of cyberbaiting is growing. According to a study by the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State University, 19.5% of boys and 13% of girls said they took a picture or a video of a teacher during high school.

Some speculate that this trend is emerging because the culture is becoming more violent while others feel it is a byproduct of parents coddling their kids. But most agree it’s about new technology in the hands of impulsive teens.

To address the issue, schools need more in-depth policies to combat cyberbaiting and cyberbullying. But, only 51% of teachers say their school has a code of conduct for how teachers and students communicate with each other through social media, the Norton report says. Additionally, kids need to be taught digital etiquette by parents and educators.

Until then, what can teachers do to prevent cyberbaiting from happening in their classrooms?

Here are the top six ideas for preventing cyberbaiting.

Develop a set of rules regarding camera phone usage in your classroom. Even if your school doesn’t have established guidelines, you can establish a few rules in your classroom. If your school does have guidelines, be sure your students are clear on the policy from the beginning.

Don’t be lax in enforcing the rules.

Discuss digital citizenship and your digital expectations with the class at the beginning of the year. Talk to your students about the importance of digital citizenship and digital etiquette. Additionally, be sure they know what is permitted in your classroom and what isn’t. For instance, when can students use their cell phones, iPads, and iPods, if at all? Be sure everyone clearly understands the consequences if they violate these guidelines.

Don’t “friend” your students online. Across the globe, 67% of teachers feel being friends with students on social networking sites exposes them to risks, the Norton study says. Yet, globally 34% of teachers continue to accept online friendships with students.

Stay current on classroom management strategies. Classroom management is a crucial component of teaching and the best way to maintain order in class. While there are a variety of classroom management strategies out there, you may have to be flexible each school year in order to adapt your strategies to the students you are teaching.

While it is important to begin the year with a structured plan in place, be flexible enough to change and adapt to the situation and your students. Determine what is working and what isn’t and refine your strategies.

Brainstorm how to address cyberbaiting with other teachers. At your next building meeting or teacher’s meeting, bring up the issue of cyberbaiting and ask for ideas on how others are handling the risks. Or, organize a small group of teacher friends and discuss what works and what doesn’t work with confrontational students. The important thing is to develop a group of teachers that can support one another and address the issue together. Trying to prevent cyberbaiting alone is never a good idea.

Be prepared for a cyberbaiting incident should one occur in your classroom. Realize that while you can take steps to prevent cyberbaiting from happening, you can’t control the choices your students make. But, if you are educated about the possibility for cyberbaiting and you have a few ideas on how to address cyberbaiting, you will be less likely to suffer consequences from attempts made by students.

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