Bullying, among other aspects of life, has found its new platform by going digital. Now, it’s not just your kid against oppressors at school but also your kid against the digital world. “Cyberbullying is just another tactic used to harass and cause emotional pain to an individual,” explains DeAnn Harvey, PsyD.
And it’s quite worrisome to realize that your children can be terrorized at any time of the day even at the comforts of your own home by just logging into their social media accounts.
Forms of Cyberbullying
Bullies and meanies are forever and will not stop until they know how far they’ve gone in creating an adverse effect on other people – that’s how they are built and wired. Cyberbullying takes on different forms, namely:
- Exclusion – leaving someone out from happenings inside and outside school premises.
- Harassment – sending of malicious and unkind messages.
- Dissing – posting offensive information about your child with the purpose of destroying the child’s reputation to their friends or the organization.
- Trolling – a popular means of provocation used in social media sites by deliberately sending foul language or insults to the child.
- Stalking – like what happens in real life, the stalker directly threatens the welfare of your child
The alarming reality of cyberbullying is that it is hard to reprimand since the majority of online bullies create fake, multiple accounts just for the intention of targeting vulnerable individuals online.
Harmful Effects of Cyberbullying
As long as your children have access to the internet with their Wi-Fi-ready devices, it’s hard to know if they are becoming victims of cyberbullying. Kids who usually get picked-on feel helpless and will have significant changes in behavior that you will quickly notice. If this despicable act does not stop and your child gets exposed to it every day, the chances of him or her having depression, anxiety, trauma, and other psychological disorders are high. Some of the worst cases even result in suicide.
How You Can Protect Your Kids
Children are the main core groups that are most vulnerable when it comes to cyberbullying. What’s disconcerting is the reality that cyberbullies cannot be quickly apprehended especially if the bullies are not connected with your children’s school or organization. For this reason, online bullying has become so rampant that the only way to get rid eliminate the threat is to get rid of the source which means disconnecting from the internet once and for all. However, with everything going digital, it’s a bit challenging to separate your kids from the hellfire.
As parents, struggling to find ways to safeguard your children is a top priority. Protecting your children from cyberbullying is no different from sheltering them from any forms of abuse. Here are means that you can help your children:
- Communicate with Your Kids
Children are often secretive for a lot of reasons; this leads to worsening of the harmful activity. Parents have to make the first move in talking to their kids. “But remember the child is feeling vulnerable already, so it is important to stay calm to lessen their fear of opening up. Ease into their discomfort,” explains Zachary Sikora, PsyD. Always take time to listen to your kids and offer support and comfort. Through this, you are assuring your children that they are not alone in their battle against cyberbullies.
- Give Sensible Advice
Bullies came to be because probably, there were people in their lives that did them wrong; or sometimes, they are just psychos who delight themselves in harassing other people. Knowing this, you can make your children understand that it’s not their fault that kids in their school or strangers are mean to them. You can tell them:
- Not to pay attention and ignore the troll or bullies.“You let them know, never to respond because if you respond, you are keeping it going. If they respond, and they are going to want to because their emotions will kick in, but responding will only make the situation worse,” says Joel Haber, PhD.Do not engage in a conversation with cyberbullies because it’s pointless.
- Block cyberbullies immediately.
- Save the messages to keep track of all contents that are offensive just in case you want the authorities to get involved.
- Report bullies at once. If the cyberbullies are connected with the institution where your kid goes, go directly to the officials. On the other hand, if it’s online, messaging the website administrator with evidence or screenshots of the bullying is the best thing to do to get the person blocked or get the account revoked.
- Limit the Access
Limiting access may be a bit harsh, but it’s for the welfare of your kids. Sometimes, children cannot be tamed and think that they can take on the bullying, but in reality, they are just making themselves more vulnerable to the attack. Limit your children’s access to their devices and make sure that usage is strictly for educational purposes.
It’s a Scary Online World
Exemption from online bullying is not limited to children because it even targets adults. Cyberbullying chooses no age or gender. As a parent, you should also know when to become involved in your children’s affairs online. Be mindful of your child’s behavior and always find a way to check up on your children’s activities online.