For those of us that grew up with the standard bullies in the neighborhood or at school, you may not realize the damage and effects of the additional bullying your kids may endure through Social Media and other electronic communication platforms.
Be educated about it and know what to look for and what to do.
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying happens via any form of electronic communication. It can occur through text messaging, email, social media, gaming platforms and more. There are so many different mediums and ways to cyberbully that it can be hard to keep track of everything.
In fact, it may not even involve your child directly, yet rumors spread through social media, texts your child doesn’t know about or them communicating with a fake account believing it is someone they know.
It can be as simple as ongoing name-calling, intimidation, coercion or just making your child feel bad about themselves. Although those are simple things to do thanks to electronic communication, it doesn’t mean they have simple effects on your child.
Signs Your Child is Being Cyberbullied
Self-isolation is one of the biggest signs your child or teen may display as a result of cyberbullying. As their self-confidence is slowly deteriorating, so is their joy of spending time doing pretty much anything.
They may show a lack of interest in activities they once enjoyed and/or become abnormally moody, anxious or sad. They could also interact less with the family and prefer to spend more time alone in their room than anywhere else.
It’s important to watch your children’s reactions while they are engaged in online activities as it could be one of the only physical signs you may be able to see. If they appear upset while using their phone or any other electronic device, pay attention and ask questions.
If they quickly close windows, screens or shield their communications from you, this could be another sign of cyberbullying.
What to Do
Encourage them to talk to you and monitor as many of their communications as you can. If they do come to you with cyberbullying, collect and save any and all evidence.
If the bullying occurred on social media you can report it to the social media platform. Block any and all further electronic contact with the bully. On mobile devices, text messages can be blocked and on social media platforms, you can block the person from posting about you, contacting you via messaging or having the ability to see anything your child posts.
Last but not least, talk to your child about the importance of not retaliating. This could lead to even more cyberbullying instead of helping the problem. Your goal as a parent should first and foremost be to remove the threat from your child’s daily life.
If simply doing this does not resolve the problem you may need to take additional steps to keep your child safe.