What is Cyberbullying?
It is bullying that is done by using technology and online sources, most commonly through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Bullying includes anything done to threaten, harass, humiliate, embarrass, or intimidate someone, or cause him or her to be isolated or excluded. Other cyberbullying activities include sending nasty or harassing texts, exposing or publically posting someone’s private photos without his or her consent, excluding someone from an online game, or using someone’s social media account to insult his or her friends.
Cyberbullies usually target kids, and severe cyberbullying can lead to low self-esteem, low confidence, depression, anxiety, self-harm, social isolation, and even suicide in some cases. Therefore, parents need to pay attention to their children, and find out if they are becoming victims of cyberbullies. Listed below are some ways to help your child if he or she is being bullied.
Look for the Signs of Cyberbullying:
Pay attention to the changes in your kid’s behavior or habits. Watch out for the following signs:
- Your kid seems quiet and nervous after using internet
- Spending more or less time on online activities than usual.
- Wanting to be isolated, and not wanting to go to school or outdoors.
- Irregular sleeping or eating patterns
- Low performance in exams, and/or trouble focusing on studies.
- Stomach aches or headaches
Don’t Blame Your Child:
Most kids don’t tell their parents that they are being cyberbullied, that’s because they have some kind of fear in their minds, or they are ashamed and blame themselves. If you find out that your kid is the victim, do not blame him. Talk to your child about cyberbullying and reassure him that nobody deserves to be mistreated for any reason. Make your child comfortable to share his or her experiences. Be supportive enough so that your child can open up and share with you what he is going through. Don’t get overwhelmed, and don’t ban internet access.
Save the Evidence:
Tell your child to save the evidence of cyberbullying, like abusive remarks or images, insulting comments. Take screenshots of social media posts, and save the bully’s instant messages. Collecting and saving evidence can help if the case gets worse and crosses into criminal behaviors.
Don’t Respond to the Bully:
Tell your child not to respond to the bully because the bully exploits the response from your child. A bully is likely to take advantage and harass him even more if he feels that the child is upset. Tell your child to ignore the harassment and block the bully so that he will not be able to contact him again. If the bully changes his identity or contacts your child through other online sources, tell your child to inform you. In that case, it’s better to block your child’s social media account for a few weeks or months, or you can report that cyberbully through the social network he is using.
Contact the Bully’s Parents:
Be careful and collect the evidence before you do this. Contacting the bully’s parents can trigger him to make the bullying worse. Taking this action can help in stopping bullying if you already know the bully’s parents so you can talk to them and resolve the issue.
Contact the Police and File a Complaint:
Cyberbullying of sexual nature can be a threat to your child’s safety and can also lead to criminal behaviors like threats of violence, sexual harassment, extortion, child pornography, stalking, or hate crimes. In such cases, contact the police and file a complaint against that bully.
Do not be complacent about someone bullying your child. Your child is taking it very serious. Do all you can to understand the situation and support you child.