One of the largest things affecting our children as they navigate their younger years is bullying. Bullying has taken on a new form in recent years as the rise of online social spaces have changed the way people communicate. Now children aren’t just susceptible to bullying in person but they also can experience it online as well!
Cyberbullying involves harassing individuals, usually children or teens, online through social media, messaging platforms, gaming platforms, and mobile phones. Cyberbullying is intended to scare, anger or shame those who are being targeted.
Some examples of Cyberbullying include:
“spreading lies about or posting embarrassing photos of someone on social media
sending hurtful messages or threats via messaging platforms
impersonating someone and sending mean messages to others on their behalf.”
What are the effects of cyberbullying?
While bullying in general is very harmful for a young person’s mental and sometimes physical health, cyberbullying is shown to have even more of a negative impact. Since cyberbullying happens online and many teens and children spend a considerable amount of time online talking to their peers, cyberbullying can feel as though it is inescapable.
Cyberbullying can have a mental effect on children leading to feelings of being upset, embarrassed, stupid or even angry. It can also have an emotional effect on children leaving them feeling ashamed and can cause them to even lose interest in the things he/she loves. Physically, cyberbullying can lead victims to losing sleep, and experiencing stomach aches and headaches.
In extreme cases, cyberbullying can lead victims to extreme measures.
What are the signs of cyberbullying?
Nervous about going to school or events with other children
Jumpy when using cell phone
Frustrated after going online
Unwilling to discuss their online activity
Unexplained health issues such as weight loss or gain, headaches, stomachaches, or trouble eating
Trouble going to sleep at night
Loss of interest in hobbies
Change in child’s personality - more withdrawn, anti-social
Making passing statements about suicide
How Do You Address Cyberbullying with Your Child?
The first step to helping your child or any child with cyberbullying is to be educated on what cyberbullying entails - where it takes place, how it affects a child’s personality and actions.
The next step is creating a safe space for your child to communicate with you about their online activities. Starting this conversation early and maintaining it will help you ensure your child is safe online. If your child does raise some concerning situations they have experienced online, be sure to remain calm, don’t overreact. Overreacting can lead to your child keeping future problems from you.
Try connecting with your child by sharing similar experiences from your childhood where you were embarrassed or mistreated by your peers. Let your child know it is not their fault. Reassuring your child that it is more about the bully’s own personal problems than them will help them feel better about the situation. Encourage your child to not respond to cyberbullying as this may make the situation worse, try blocking the bully on all platforms instead.
Once you have talked with your child about what is going on and you have gathered evidence of cyberbullying, going to your child’s school can also help. Many schools have policies concerning cyberbullying and notifying the school will also help them watch out for your child while there.
As a part of our See Something, Say Something campaign, we encourage everyone to speak up and help those in need, if you see something suspicious online or in person. It only takes one person to make an impact and we hope you will join us on our mission to make South Carolina a better place to live and raise our families!