Be an upstander in the digital world

Be an upstander in the digital world

Being a teenager presents a host of life challenges when dealing with the digital world. There are several positive aspects to social media, but with it also comes the negative. Between the news, media coverage, sexting, cyberbullying and more it can be hard to be positive and present your best self on social media.

Who are you on social media? An upstander or bystander? For teens, the thought of becoming an upstander might be hard, especially as teens navigate on the internet. Yet, with the right guidance they can do so and not be a bystander.

How to become an Upstander

Teenagers spend approximately nine hours a day on social media. During this time, there is tweeting, snapchats being sent, Instagram posts and everything in between.

A bystander doesn't help cyberbullying victims. Are you noticing or hearing about other classmates sending mean text messages or sharing pictures?

This is your moment to be a upstander! It shows people it’s important to do the right thing no matter what and can encourage others. The right actions and behaviors of going from a bystander to an upstander takes time but can be done!

Here are some tips on how parents can help a teen/tween become an upstander

Ask necessary questions

It's really a tough task to know everything about what's going on with your teenager’s social life. But show them how interested you are in learning about their interests online.  Ask them if they have experienced others in their class being cyberbullied.

Did they go along with this? If so, why? If they stood up for the person, why? Are they sharing those mean text messages and photos?

Becoming an upstander starts with a real conversation between tweens, teens and their parents.

Brainstorm different ways to be an upstander

The difference between being a bystander and an upstander is standing up for someone. As a parent, sit down with your teen or tween. Talk to them about small ways they can stand up for someone. These are some simple ideas to help teens think about starting to be an upstander.

  • Stop the chain when it gets to them
  • Tell their friends it isn’t funny
  • Ask people how they would feel if it was them
  • Know they can speak with you about it
  • Delete it from a friend’s phone (ask for permission for their phone)

Understand cyberbullying

If your teens or tweens are joining social media with their friends, then this would be a good segue into cyberbullying. Motivate them to understand social media and use it in a positive way. Encourage them to share any challenges they face to you. This helps lead to a strong and positive digital footprint and branding on social media.

It takes courage to stick up for someone else as a teen or tween, but with the right help it can be done! These are a couple more ideas on how to help your teens become a upstander. Don’t forget parents, kids are a product of their environment. Be an upstander yourself.


Smart Girl Society, Inc., is an Omaha-based nonprofit working to educate and inspire smart,  confident girls, women and families. This is done through educational workshops, civil outreach programs and technology and social media research.  Interested in learning more? Check us out!