Pop culture has always played a huge role in the lives of teenagers, but even more so in our tech-obsessed age. Movies are watched in the theater, on TV, on laptops, tablets, smartphones, and many other devices. When parents want to open a discussion about bullying or, more specifically, cyberbullying with their children, it's best to find a platform that teens can relate to. And what's better than something that they are already love: movies? These five films will teach your kids all about cyberbullying, the effect it can have, and what to do about it.
This original movie aired on teen-targeted ABC Family in 2011 as a partnership between the station and Seventeen magazine. It tells the story of a teenage girl named Taylor who gets a laptop for her birthday and joins a fictional social network similar to Facebook.
The cyberbullying starts when her brother hacks into her account and posts negative messages about her, which are added to by students at school. She also meets a boy online who ends up spreading rumors about her through the website as well. The cyberbullying gets so chaotic that Taylor eventually tries to commit suicide, but her friend stops her. Taylor eventually finds solace in a support group and her mom fights for legislature against cyberbullying and wins.
This movie is probably the best one out there to showcase how horrible cyberbullying can be and the strong effect it can have on teens. It shows the whole process, from first getting online to receiving threats and feeling hopeless. The harassment is demonstrated in a way that shows teens not just what cyberbullying is, but also why it is wrong. Because it is already intended for teens, it is a great way to show them what not to do as well as what types of things to report should they see them written online.
Watch Cyberbully on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_gIFO12QFs
Released just last year in 2015, The Duff is a teen comedy that is based on a book of the same name. Unlike the movie Cyberbully, The Duff isn't entirely about cyber threats, but it does have examples of cyberbullying and their effects.
The film centers around a girl named Bianca. While at a party, an old friend reveals to her that she is the DUFF of her friend group - Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Basically, he says, she is less popular and desirable than her friends. Appalled at realizing he is right, Bianca makes a deal with him to make her more popular in exchange for helping him study for science.
At the mall where they're picking out new clothes for Bianca, a popular girl from school secretly films her in her new clothes as she talks to a mannequin, pretending it's her crush. The girl then distributes the video online to the whole school, which is where the cyberbullying comes in.
This movie is brutally honest in the way that it shows social bullying at school mixed in with cyberbullying via social media. Since social networks are such a large part of modern society, especially among teenagers, The Duff really shows teens how all types of bullying can blend and leave a lasting effect on students. But it also shows how they can overcome and move past it.
Watch the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ci7eKlNRiuw
Odd Girl Out
Another made-for-TV movie, Odd Girl Out follows eighth grader Vanessa who starts out as a member of a popular clique, but is later ostracized for becoming close with a boy her friend has a crush on. Her former friends spread rumors about her and it escalates until they are socially bullying her as well as cyberbullying.
The clique creates a website about Vanessa to badmouth her and things continue to escalate until Vanessa attempts suicide. While she is in the hospital, her mom finds instant messages from the cyber bullies and turns them in to the school, resulting in a school policy that forbids cyberbullying. Vanessa's mom tells her she was bullied as a child and insists that she stand up to the girls tormenting her, which Vanessa eventually does after even more bullying.
This movie is a great example of the confidence that can arise from fighting back. It shows teens not to let people walk all over them and that things can get better if you fight for your happiness. Like Cyberbully, this film also shows just how harmful cyberbullying can be to teens who are victims.
Watch the movie on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQFFp8tGdeA
While this film has the same name as the 2011 ABC Family movie, it has a distinct storyline. Released in 2015 as a British television movie, it is about a girl named Casey. When she is online one evening, a hacker messages her from one of her friend's accounts, threatening her by telling her he will post inappropriate photos or videos of her online if she tries to leave the room or contact anyone.
The hacker starts posting things online that reveal her other friends' secrets before telling her that she is the real cyberbully. He shows her screenshots from other things she has done online and insists that the suicide of an Internet celebrity was caused by a comment Casey made. The hacker wants her to confess and apologize then tries to convince her to commit suicide as well for her actions. Casey eventually realizes her family and friends won't blame her as the hacker said so she signs off, emotional over the whole ordeal.
This movie is interesting because it touches on some things that other movies on cyberbullying don't. It reveals how some bullies don't realize the effect their words or actions are having on others, but it also shows how threats of social isolation can alter a person's thoughts and emotions.
Watch Cyberbully on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkGXzw9QzFI
Adina's Deck is a straight-to-DVD series that serves as an educational resource; additional supplemental material on the movie's website can be used to show children what cyberbullying is and why it's a problem.
There are three different half-hour episodes that each tell a different story, from tracking down the identity of someone who is sending threatening online messages to finding out who a girl's online boyfriend really is.
They all demonstrate the problems that arise from cyberbullying and improper use of the Internet. The characters in the episodes are all in eighth grade although the program is targeted at all kids between the ages of nine and fifteen. Each episode helps children know how they can prevent these things from happening in their lives or their friends' lives.
Learn more about Adina's Deck: https://adinasdeck.com/