Help for teens being bullied on Facebook

Don’t like a post on Facebook? Wish you weren’t tagged making that face? Being cyber-bullied?

Yale research scientist Marc Brackett is here to help.

Brackett, 43, a child psychologist who was bullied himself in middle school, is helping Facebook develop better tools for young teens to use to flag problematic posts, deal with conflicts and navigate the sometimes treacherous waters of social networking.

Facebook asked Brackett to be a consultant on their anti-bullying project because of his work on bullying as director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

“It’s just that hundreds of thousands of kids per month are reporting being cyber-bullied,” Brackett said. “Facebook wanted to find ways to help kids who were being cyber-bullied.”

Brackett, together with other Yale researchers and Facebook engineers, have developed a system that enables 13- and 14-year-olds to communicate more socially and thoughtfully to resolve conflicts and get help.

“We’ve created a system to help them more easily to report their experience, feel comfortable about reporting it, express their feelings and make suggestions about the best way to manage it,” Brackett said.

Until now, Facebook users often would respond to an objectionable post or photo by either “unfriending” or blocking the person or by clicking the “Report” button on Facebook.

The new system, which Facebook has begun to introduce, helps teach these teens how to stay in the relationship by giving them the social skills to address problems and encourages them to find help offline from a trusted adult.

“They are learning how to communicate with that person so they can problem-solve instead of just dismissing them,” Brackett said.

How it works

 

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