As a parent in the age of digital communication, you have plenty of new ground to navigate. When it comes to kids and the internet, it can be a challenge to protect them from other users.
Cyberbullying is a prevalent issue among kids today. In fact, a 2016 report from the Cyberbullying Research Center found that 33.8% of students between the ages of 12 and 17 had been victims of cyberbullying. Moreover, studies have found that the amount of digital hate speech has increased by up to 70% since the beginning of the pandemic.
What Is Cyberbullying according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices. Smart phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, Text, and apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behavior.
The most common places where cyberbullying occurs are:
- Social Media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok
- Text messaging and messaging apps on mobile or tablet devices
- Instant messaging, direct messaging, and online chatting over the internet
- Online forums, chat rooms, and message boards, such as Reddit
- Online gaming communities
Read on to learn more about cyberbullying, and find out how to help your child cope.
Detecting Signs of Cyberbullying
There are a few things to look for if you suspect your child is being cyberbullied. Some signs include:
- A change in attitude after being online
- Being secretive about online activity
- Avoidance of social situations
- A drop in grades
- Defensiveness over online activity
How To Help Your Child Overcome Cyberbullying
As a parent, it's hard to watch your child struggle, especially against seemingly invisible forces. But while cyberbullying may not have any physical repercussions, it can cause significant damage to your child's mental and emotional well-being. From depression to eating disorders, the effects of cyberbullying can last a lifetime if the situation is left unattended.
Luckily, there are some ways you can get involved in a way that can help your child. Follow the tips below and keep your child safe from threats online, and overcome cyberbullying once and for all.
Offer Your Support
Offering your support is the first step in overcoming cyberbullying. Your child may feel ashamed as a victim, and providing them with sympathy can give them the strength and confidence they need to deal with the situation. Plus, knowing you're on their side gives your child one less thing to stress over, and lets them know they aren't alone.
Reach Out To Their School
While cyberbullying takes place online, it is often rooted in school drama. Whether it's a friendship gone wrong or simply a mean classmate, your child's attackers are likely people they know from school or extracurricular activities.
If this is the case, consider reaching out to a school counselor or principal. They may be able to end the bullying by taking disciplinary action against the other student.
Always keep a copy or a screenshot of each attack on your child. This can include texts, comments, posts, or direct messages. Keeping a record will give you the evidence you need to seek help for your child.
Stay Aware- Digital Awareness for Parents
Most importantly, be familiar with what your child is doing online. Staying informed can help you eliminate threats and dangers before they harm your child. The digital world is constantly evolving. You may not be able to monitor all of your child’s digital activities, there are things you can do to prevent cyberbullying and protect your child from harmful digital behavior:
- Monitor a teen’s social media sites, apps, and browsing history, if you have concerns that cyberbullying may be occurring. There are many apps that can help you monitor your child's phone.
- Review or re-set your child’s phone location and privacy settings.
- Follow or friend your teen on social media sites or have another trusted adult do so.
- Stay up-to-date on the latest apps, social media platforms, and digital slang used by children and teens.
- Know your child’s user names and passwords for email and social media.
Establish rules about appropriate digital behavior, content, and apps.
When you collect the evidence you must report everything to the your local authorities and school. You can also report it to Online Service Providers.
Remember that your child and teenager needs you around, even if they do not admit it. Let them know you love them and support them no matter what!
For a more detailed guide to dealing with bullying, check out Upbility's products for modern parents and learn how to keep your child safe in today's world.
Our Books about bullying and conflict resolution help cope with such practices in school, at home or on the internet and deal with people involved in a bullying incident. The e-book with the title “Social situations for adolescents” has been designed for adolescents in the autism spectrum, but can be implemented to other adolescent children to develop their social interactions.
by Alice Kassotaki - Speech Language Pathologist MSc, BSc
Copyright Upbility 2022
You can Download our poster "Autism Bulling Signs and How to Help Your Child" here
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