Bullying has been around forever. When most parents were young, bullying took place in the schoolyard. When they got home, they could escape into a world of safety. With the use of social networking sites, bullying is following children’s home. This makes it even more difficult for kids to deal with bullies than ever before. Thankfully, there are ways for you to help your child deal with cyberbullying.
What is Online Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying has very real-world effects on children. From mild to extreme cases, a child’s mental health can be very negatively affected. In order to be able to help your child or teen, you must first understand what cyberbullying is.
Cyberbullying is when a person is teased, taunted, or embarrassed through a technology device. The taunting may be done publicly (such as commenting on their pictures), or privately through instant messages. Teasing may even be done through text messages.
Much research has been done surrounding cyberbullying. This helps to give parents insight into what their kids may be facing online. Here are a few interesting statistics.
- 37% of teens aged 12-17 have experienced cyberbullying
- 95% of teens spend at least some of their spare time online
- Only 1 in 10 kids report the abuse to their parents.
These stats show that there is so much opportunity for kids to experience bullying. Still, they are very unlikely to share what is happening to them. It is likely going to be up to the parent to address the situation with their kids.
Tips on How to Approach Your Child in Order to Start a Dialogue
Perhaps you suspect your kids are victims of cyberbullying. As a parent, you are likely going to want to start a conversation but may not know how to begin the talk. Here are a few tips for approaching the conversation:
- Be persistent without prying. Tell them you don’t need to know all the details, just the basics. This is good if they are feeling embarrassed
- Open the conversation but tell them that they don’t need to talk now if they aren’t ready. Give them your time when they are
- Try having the discussion in a neutral place, like the car, where the conversation has a foreseeable end
- Empathize and validate their feelings throughout the conversation
What Can You Do?
Talking to your kids and monitoring their online activity is an excellent place to start to monitor cyberbullying. You may find one approach more helpful than another; however, it may be best to combine several methods.
- Set ground rules about devices before giving one to them
- Block the bully from your kid’s social media
- Teach kids about the danger of sharing personal information online
- Put parental controls on your kids’ devices
- Limit screen time
- Monitor your children’s social media
- Talk to other parents
How Can Online Therapy Help?
Online therapy may be an excellent option to help your kids deal with online bullying. This can help whether your kid is being bullied or is the one doing the bullying.
Since kids spend so much time online, they may be more comfortable participating in virtual therapy appointments. Additionally, some sites are able to provide sessions at non-traditional hours. This can be very helpful for those with busy schedules.
For parents, online therapy is usually a more cost-effective method of delivery, making it easier for you to provide your kids with the help they need. Not to mention, online counseling takes place in a safe place that can promote a more open discussion.
When it comes to navigating online bullying, there are plenty of resources available to help you and your family. Depending on whether you prefer in-person or online help, there is a resource that can provide you with the guidance you need. For example:
- Try online counseling for teens, children, and families
- Talk to the school counselor
- Check out the school’s policy on bullying
- Join a support group
- Visit anti-cyberbullying websites
Children and teens are experiencing cyberbullying at an alarming rate. This is an unfortunate but true reality. Though many anti-bullying programs and campaigns exist, young people may still experience online bullying. Talking to kids about their online activity and participating in online counseling for families can help with bullying prevention and solutions.