Is the dawn of the internet a boon or a bane because of cyber bullying? The internet is a powerful tool for communication. It provides the opportunity to share ideas with people from around the world, build relationships through social media, and keep in touch with friends and family.
However, there are also dangers inherent to online life that may not be as obvious as those we encounter on a daily basis offline. One of these dangers is cyber bullying – when someone uses digital technology to harass others anonymously or at least without identifying themselves – which can have serious consequences on an individual’s mental health and well-being.
As a parent, what should you know about cyber bullying and how can you protect your child from it?
What is Cyber bullying?
The most common form of cyber bullying is through the use of social media. Cyber bullies will choose a victim, target them by setting up fake profiles or joining groups on Facebook and then post inflammatory comments, often ridiculing the designated person before an audience of thousands.
Another way that cyber bullies can torment their victims is by impersonating them online. They might create email accounts in the victim’s name to send racist or insulting messages to other people, or log in to their social media account and publish embarrassing photos without permission.
Sings of a Child Being Bullied Online
There are some signs that a child is being cyber bullied. If your child:
-Starts spending more time behind closed doors or away from the family;
-Seems afraid to use the computer, cell phone or other digital devices
-Avoids using social media and sharing personal information online;
-Has become moody and irritable and has lost interest in schoolwork or other activities they normally enjoy; -Is experiencing problems at school – such as declining grades – for no clear reason.
Parents should also be on the lookout if there are sudden changes in how their child acts when they are online. For instance, if he/she frequently becomes aggressive, tries to isolate themselves from friends, withdraws from family activities, or – in the worst-case scenario – stops going to school. When you see these signs, look for other possible signs of cyberbullying and investigate whether your child has been a victim of this type of harassment online.
What Effects can Cyber bullying Have on a Child?
It is important to note that while some children appear resilient and able to shrug off hurtful comments, others might be more sensitive to such abuse and may suffer long-term emotional damage as a result
For example, research shows that bullying victims are up to nine times more likely than non-victims to experience mental health problems such as anxiety and depression at some point during their adolescence. They may also feel insecure about themselves and withdraw from social activities, or is secretive about what they are doing on their devices.
How to Keep Your Child Safe Against Cyber bullying
If your child is being cyber bullied, here are some steps you can take to help them deal with the situation:
-Remain calm – this situation will be hard for you too
-Make sure that your child knows it’s not their fault and they did nothing wrong
-Don’t respond immediately – let them have time to cool down first before calling the bully back or replying to emails
-Involve other people in resolving the problem, such as a guidance counselor at school, their parents if they go to boarding school, another adult whom they trust, etc. to whom your child feels close enough to confide in or seek advice.
-If necessary, involve the police because cyber bullying may have criminal implications
-Talk about it – if you think that your child can handle being bullied online without being too affected by it, you might want them to know what’s happening so they can be warier of their surroundings when they go online. You can also teach them how to better protect themselves against future attacks.
-Pay attention to technology – keep sharing rules for digital usage with your children, but don’t ignore technology yourself so that you will know what they are doing on their devices and how. For instance, do you know where all the family smartphones are at night? Or that they’re charging in their rooms? Or that they know how you can track them if they get lost?
How to Talk with Kids about the Cyber bullying They See from Famous Adults
It’s important to make children aware that even if cyberbullying is not as intense and aggressive as other types of bullying, it can still take a toll on their emotional well-being. The reason why they’re often apprehensive about telling their parents or teachers what’s going on is because they might feel that it’s just “part of life”.
As we mentioned earlier, the best thing we can do for our kids is to keep an open line of communication with them so they would know where to go to when they need help – especially if someone is hurting them online or offline. The most important thing I think any parent should do in these situations is listen attentively and be understanding. Kids aren’t likely to open up and talk about their problems if they see that their parents are too busy or dismissive of their concerns.
But it’s also important to teach them how to cope with bullying because not all instances can be solved easily. For example, children shouldn’t assume that the problem would go away by itself if they don’t do anything about it – especially if the bully is persistent and won’t stop even after requests were made for him/her to stop. They should know that this kind of behavior might just worsen the situation and that sometimes, direct intervention is necessary before things escalate into something worse than it already is.
How Can Bullied Children Cope With Cyber bullying?
If your child is being bullied online, it can be difficult for them to deal with especially if they are not getting much support from the people around them. What you should do when this happens is empower them by allowing them to share their feelings about what’s going on without getting defensive or dismissive.
Really listen to what they have to say – don’t talk over their voices and try to grab the phone away from them so that you could reply instead. Try not to take too much time in typing replies because the longer you wait, the more hurtful your message can be. This can also discourage your child from reaching out for help. It may sound unbelievable but kids are brave enough to offer solutions that only adults usually think of in these instances.
Sometimes, kids would be so anxious about talking to their parents that they would rather tell them over the phone so they could have more time to organize their thoughts. If you are more comfortable doing this, allow your child some privacy when he/she is telling you what’s going on but make sure that you’re nearby in case your kid needs help.
Just don’t enter the room without knocking or call out to him/her. This can really affect his/her ability to share what happened because it makes them think that you’ll butt in anytime soon – even if he/she is not finished yet with what s/he has to say.
Don’t take things personally – this is one of the hardest things for any parent because we are very protective of our kids. Sometimes, when your child talks about the cyberbullying that s/he’s experiencing, you would feel hurt especially if it was done by someone who is close to you – like a relative or even a family member.
But this should not be an excuse for you to lash out at them because sometimes, what they are saying might be true and it’s hard for them to admit especially if they still love the person. This can make your child feel guilty for sharing his/her feelings about being bullied so don’t add more to their pain by arguing with them about what happened.
If your child is being bullied, the best thing you could do for him/her is to listen and be understanding. This can make them feel safe around you and they won’t be afraid that sharing their feelings would result in a fight or an argument between the two of you.
It’s important that we take every safety measure necessary for our kids so we should teach them what they can do if ever s/he becomes a victim of cyber bullying. One way we can help them prevent such instances from happening again is by staying updated with what’s going on in the online world – especially matters concerning internet safety.