Cyberbullying – How to Protect Our Kids

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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 Cyberbullying

What is 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 hurtful comments on their pictures), or privately through instant messages. Teasing may even be done through text messages. 


Online Bullying Statistics

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 whole youth bullying 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 Are The Effects Of Being Bullied Online?

Cyberbullying, the act of using digital platforms to intimidate, constant harassment, or humiliate others, can have profound and lasting effects. Victims often experience emotional distress, anxiety, and depression due to the constant online attacks. 

Their self-esteem and self-confidence can be eroded, leading to social isolation and withdrawal from real-life interactions. In severe cases, cyberbullying has been linked to self-harm and even suicide. Beyond individual harm from cyberbullying victimization, it can tarnish reputations, hinder academic or professional progress, and damage relationships. Moreover, bystanders witnessing such hurtful behavior might develop a desensitized attitude toward cruelty. 

Combating cyberbullying requires collective efforts from society, parents, schools, and online platforms to raise awareness, promote digital empathy, and establish mechanisms to swiftly address and prevent such harmful behavior.


How Can Cyberbullying Affect My Mental Health?

Cyberbullying can significantly impact your mental health by creating a hostile online environment that fosters fear, anxiety, and emotional distress. Constant exposure to hurtful, threatening messages, threats, or demeaning comments can erode your self-esteem and self-worth, leading to feelings of inadequacy, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

The anonymity of the internet can amplify the intensity of attacks, making it harder to escape the emotional toll. The isolation caused by cyberbullying, as victims might withdraw from online and offline social interactions, can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and further deteriorate mental well-being.

The fear of encountering more abuse can also lead to heightened stress and hypervigilance, affecting sleep patterns and overall emotional stability. Seeking support from friends, family, mental health professionals, and taking breaks from online social media platforms can be essential in mitigating the negative impact of cyberbullying on your mental health.


Who should I talk to if someone is bullying me online?

If you’re experiencing online bullying, it’s important to reach out for help and support. Start by confiding in a trusted friend or family member who can offer emotional assistance. If the situation escalates or persists, consider discussing it with a school counselor, teacher, or supervisor if it’s related to your education or workplace.

Many platforms have report bullying mechanisms to address online harassment, so use these tools to report cyberbullying or busive content. If the bullying involves threats, hate speech, or any form of criminal activity, you should contact your local law enforcement.

Seeking guidance from a mental health professional can help you cope with the emotional impact of online abuse. Remember that you don’t have to face this alone – talking to someone you trust and taking action against cyberbullying is crucial for your well-being.


What Can You Do?

Talking to your kids and monitoring their online activity is an excellent place to start to monitor and address 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 high school students and 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.


Resources

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 in person online resource that can provide you with the guidance you need. For example:

Children and teens are experiencing cyberbullying online now 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 mobile phone activity and participating in online counseling for families can help with bullying prevention and solutions.

John S. - Editor in Chief
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