What is Cyberbullying?
Bullying is nothing new. What has changed is that it can become virtually impossible to escape them because of the amount of time spent on various forms of technology such as phones, tablets, and computers. Almost all teens have smartphones, making it a quick and easy way to take the bullying home. Cyberbullying can happen through texts, social media, gaming sites, email, and apps. Bullying can be done privately or publicly. As we support our kids and teens, it is vital to be aware of the signs and dangers of cyberbullying. How you respond and stop the situation will be crucial.
Know the Signs
Unfortunately, like most in-person bullying, most kids will not report what is happening to them for fear that they will face even worse consequences. Because of this, as parents, we need to know the signs and what to look for.
You may start noticing that your kid or teen suddenly stops wanting to use the internet. They may seem worried or stressed after logging into social media or checking their device. Another common sign is that they will withdraw from everyone around them. This can include staying in their room or skipping social events. As cyberbullying continues, you may notice a slip in grades, eating or sleeping may decrease, and you may see signs of suicide in severe cases. If you suspect your child is at risk of harming themselves, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
Handling The Cyberbully
If you find yourself watching one of these situations play out, remember you can provide support and teachable moments for your child. One way to handle a cyberbully is not to respond initially. Most cyberbullies are looking for a reaction, and no response will deter them from trying again. It is also essential to document and save the evidence. If the issue continues, make a plan to meet with school administrators to discuss consequences for out-of-school bullying. If you feel comfortable, ask the bully’s parents to be in attendance. It is challenging to continue victimizing other teens when everyone is on the same page.
Tips for Prevention
The number one tip for prevention is to open up a dialogue with your kid or teen. They need to know that in the event of being cyberbullied, you will always be an ally. Your support needs to remain the same regardless of the situation they are being bullied for.
Talk to your child about standing up for others being bullied in person or online. For example, if they witness someone being cyberbullied, they need to break the chain and report what is taking place.