Cyberbullying has far reaching psychological implications including rage, melancholy, shame and anxiety are just a couple of emotions that may be experienced with a cyberbullying sufferer. These feelings can lead to social withdrawal, isolation, decline in your kids' school work and in extreme cases even suicide!
If your child is the target of cyberbullying, they are likely feeling unhappy, angry, miserable, or even worse. They can be helped by you! First and foremost it is critical to keep an open communication channel with them, to let them feel that they will have your support and that you may come together with them to attempt to help make the bullying stop.
How Can I Tell if My Child is a Victim?
There are lots of signs that might suggest that your son or daughter is a cyberbullying sufferer. It is necessary that you carefully monitor your kids' use of computers and cell phones and discover any conduct that looks unusual. Does your son or daughter usually enjoy using the computer but suddenly no longer wants to do so? Is the child always engaged with socializing online all hours of the afternoon and night? These might be indicators that you might want to focus on.
Probably the most critical questions to ask to judge this are: Is the behavior directed at your son or daughter specifically and could it be repetitive behavior or perhaps a one-time event? Both of these questions also enable one to better define what counts as cyberbullying. Sometimes people act differently on the web because they feel it offers them the cover of anonymity. If this is the way the individual acts to everybody, the offender might be merely expressing him or herself in a negative way. Nevertheless, if the maliciousness is only toward your child, your child can be a victim of cyberbullying. When checking right into a possible cyberbullying scenario, consider whether or not the problematic behaviour has been repeated. One mean message might be a misunderstanding or misinterpretation, even unintentional. But, if the offender keeps contacting your son or daughter with problematic behaviour again and again, it is probably an effort to become a bully.
To recap, your child could be a victim if they:
- Stop using the computer or mobile phone suddenly or when you approach.
- Seem nervous or edgy when new text, e-mail or instant messages arrive.
- Is hesitant about going to school or leaving the house.
- Seem angry, depressed or frustrated after using the computer.
- Avoid talking about what she does on the computer or about who they are talking to on the mobile phone.
- Seclude themselves and avoids contact with family and friends or acts reluctant to attend school and social events.
- Grades begin to decline.
- Lack of appetite or has trouble sleeping.
Things You Can Do as a Parent if Your Child is Cyberbullied
As a parent, you will need to open the lines of communication with your child. It’s important that your child feels safe in reporting an instance of cyberbullying to you. If cyberbullying occurs, it’s important to reassure your child that you are there to help. Here’s what you can do:
- Be empathic and supportive - If you discover your child is a bullied online, take this seriously. She needs your empathy. Chances are your child did nothing to bring this on so support her but also find out the facts. Believe your kid if he says he doesn’t know who sent it. Ask if this has happened before. Tell your child to let you know if the problem continues.
- Don't be too tough - Kids often do not tell their parents about cyberbullying for fear of losing online privileges. Do not overreact or ban her from using the Internet altogether. Doing so may curtail your child from telling you she was victimized. After all, you want your child to feel comfortable coming to you.
- Do not respond to the cyberbully.
- Don't try to get back at the bully - This will simply turn you into a bully and reinforce his behavior.
- Keep copies of the harassing messages.
- Report cyberbullying to the online service provider it happened through (such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, or Gmail).
- Report the cyberbullying to local law enforcement.
- Get a new e-mail account and/or a new mobile phone number if necessary.
- Inform your child’s school.
- Protect your child by monitoring closer - Monitor your child and your computer(s) much closer for the next week or two. We'd strongly recommend a monitoring software to make sure things are settling down.
- Google your child's name - In the next days, Google your child's name on the web. Just go to the search engine site, insert your child's first and last name in quotation marks and see what has been posted online about your child. We suggest that you also use the Google alert function to set up regular searches for your child's name.
Things You Can Do to Prevent Cyberbullying
- Stop all communication with the cyberbully and try to stay calm.
- Block the bully, if possible, from any communications.
- Let a trusted adult know about the bully.
- Educate your children about cyberbullying - Start a dialogue at home. Make sure your children understand what is considered cyberbullying and what isn’t. Also, talk about the possible effects and consequences of cyberbullying. Try to focus on prevention methods they may not have considered, such as not posting personal information or provocative photos that someone could use against them, and not sharing passwords with friends.
- Encourage your children to start an awareness group at school or online to educate their peers about cyberbullying.
- Get the school involved. Just because it happens at home does not mean the school can’t help. Encourage your children to learn about their school’s cyberbullying policy and urge administrators to take a stand against all forms of bullying.
- Let your children tell you about their experiences online; Internet safety experts can’t tell their stories better than they can.
We hope you've found this cyberbullying article has helped. If you think it will help someone you know, please share this page with them! Own a blog? Please feel free to post a link to this cyberbullying guide on your next blog post. We'd sure appreciate it!
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