Here’s How to Identify If Your Child Is Being Cyberbullied
by Carolyn Lee Jun 20, 2022
Children have been engaging more with technology over the past 10 years. From social media to e-learning platforms, there are many ways for children to connect with others virtually.
Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, and TikTok help children stay connected, share their creativity, and learn from others. Technology has many benefits, but some people bully others on these platforms.
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is also known as online bullying or cyber harassment. It involves using electronic methods to intimidate, threaten, or harass others via messages, comments, and targeted posts. It may also include cyberstalking.
Hacking someone’s phone or social media pages, spreading rumours about others online, and using someone else’s identity to spread harmful messages are forms of cyberbullying.
People who cyberbully others may also share personal or private information, which they hope will embarrass or humiliate their target. Cyberbullying happens in some of the most known places like social media platforms, emails, text messages, direct messages, online chats, forums, gaming communities, and chat rooms. Adults and children can be victims of cyberbullying, and it can be devastating and traumatic, especially for children.
Signs your child is being cyberbullied.
It can be challenging for most children to identify cyberbullies since many use fake accounts. Fear of losing online privileges may also deter some children from seeking help. Some cyberbullied children may display signs that include a sudden lack of interest in texting, using devices, or strong emotional reactions (anger, frustration, upset behaviour) to what they are viewing online. After shutting down their original accounts, these children may also withdraw from activities they once enjoyed or create new social media pages.
How to prevent your child from being cyberbullied.
- Develop and nurture open communications with your child so they are comfortable talking to you about their lives.
- Discuss what cyberbullying is and share relatable examples so they are aware and know how to identify it.
- Monitor their online activity by using apps (Google and Android) that allow you to view online behaviour, chats, texts messages, etc. Save evidence of cyberbullying and use it to help create school policies and rules that minimise cyberbullying.
- Get familiar with the social media platforms and apps that your child uses. You need to know how the apps work and how trolls interact with others in these spaces. Many social media apps do not have parental controls, so you will have to adjust the privacy features in your child’s account as best as possible.
- Support parent and school communities that unite against cyberbullying. Encourage teachers and school staff to address cyberbullying in school newsletters, on the school’s website, and in meetings.
Why is it important to address cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying can cause some children to struggle psychologically, physically, and academically. This type of bullying adds significant stress to young people because it leaves them scared, hurt, and embarrassed. In extreme cases, cyberbullying can cause some people to inflict self-harm or even hurt others. Intense and sustained cyberbullying can be damaging to children’s self-esteem. So, it’s crucial to identify it and get help for those affected.
What else can you do to help protect your child?
Secure evidence once you identify that your child is being bullied online or via text messages. The evidence may help you, school administrators, or the police (if a crime is committed) identify the perpetrator. Create a strategy that can help your child to handle the situation. Your plan may involve school administrators, teachers, other parents, a guidance counsellor, or a professional therapist. It may be wise to encourage your child to take a break from online activities to protect them from further harassment.
We know cyberbullying is a sensitive topic, and we hope these tips help. Search our Find Yello listings for therapists or counsellors near you. Contact your local suicide prevention hotline or other relevant government organisation for support if you believe your child is in danger of self-harm or hurting others.
Sources: Stop Bullying, Verywell Mind, Teach Thought, Jamaica Gleaner, Safe Wise, and UNICEF.