ELKINS – Most teens use computers or tablets and cell phones to explore their interests and keep in touch with friends, but with that connection comes potential dangers in the form of harassment or threats. Davis & Elkins College education students recently helped Elkins Middle School sixth-graders gain a better understanding of cyberbullying and offered advice on how to prevent it.
Making the presentations were students from Dr. Jennifer Tesar’s Education Technology class, Daniel Bava of Elkins, Whitney Defibaugh of Mill Creek, W.Va., Maggie Fry of Elkins, Katelyn Harris of Montrose, W.Va., Rachel Leary of Rapidan, Va., Nicola Merriman of Wheeling, W.Va., Haylee Murray of Warrenton, Va., and Kendal Williams of Nanticoke, Md.
“One of my main goals in teaching Education Technology is to provide students with authentic contexts to apply what they learn in our classroom to the real world,” Tesar says. “I have worked with Elkins Middle School teacher Richard Leitner over the last five years to pair my students with teachers at the middle school to teach a technology rich lesson. This year, Mr. Leitner and his teachers wanted my technology students to teach a two-day lesson about cyberbullying and cyber safety. My students are in the age group that has grown up with technology and they have had personal experiences in dealing with cyberbullying, whether it was themselves or a close friend being the victim."
Cyberbullying is defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as bullying that takes place using electronic technology including mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites or fake profiles.
“They can’t hear enough about cyberbullying because they don’t understand all of the dangers that really can happen,” says Dee Roth, a Basic Skills teacher at EMS.
Education students pointed out that once any message or photo is posted and circulated, it is nearly impossible to delete. The danger in cyberbullying, they said, is that negative comments and inappropriate photos may generate additional mean-spirited feedback.
Linda Barry, a Life Skills teacher at EMS, says she was glad her students had opportunities to interact during the session.
“The students like to discuss things and share opinions,” Barry says. “That’s good because it makes them more confident with their own ideas.”
Ways for combatting cyberbullying, the D&E students suggested, are replying to a nasty message with a kind comment about the victim, letting the victim know he or she is liked, and telling an adult when an incident has occurred.
The D&E students’ presentation also helped the middle school fulfill its federal requirement for technology education.
“We’re delighted that the D&E students came to do this and I think our students were very receptive,” Leitner says.
Davis & Elkins College and EMS are Partners in Education, which provides education majors with a site for completing student teacher requirements.
Related to the Presbyterian Church (USA), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, DC. For more information, please visit the College website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.