How has bullying changed over the years?
If you were young before the internet came about, you know that most bullying happened in person.
Bullies tormented other kids during recess, at the bus stop, in the hallway, or in the cafeteria. However, the bullying usually stopped once a child got home.
Technology and social media; however, have allowed bullies to continue tormenting their victims, far beyond school hours.
Kids today can bully other kids anywhere and anytime they want, which is scary and unsettling, for both children and their parents.
Every parent needs to know that cyberbullying is unacceptable and must stop. Read on to find out how you can protect your children and keep them safe.
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is using online technology to hurt other people. Anyone, at any age, can be either a cyberbully or a victim.
Cyberbullies use the internet, specifically social media, as a bully pulpit to embarrass and harass people. They also may send harassing text messages.
People do this on purpose, and the abuse is usually ongoing.
Children are particularly vulnerable to cyberbullying.
Kids today use all sorts of online apps and platforms to talk to one another, including:
- Social media
- Chat or Instant Messaging apps
- Online multiplayer games
- Photo sharing apps
- Message boards and communities
Cyberbullying can happen on any of these platforms. Children have a way with new technology, making it easy for them to track down and harass others.
Examples of cyberbullying:
- Sending cruel texts, emails, or instant messages
- Spamming messages meant to harass and annoy another
- Posting unflattering photos on social media
- Sharing unflattering photos about a victim to other kids, who then share it with more kids
- Posting hurtful and untruthful things about someone on social media
- Spreading rumors, false accusations, or gossip about another child online
- Making fun of another kid in an online chat or forum that has other members
- Constantly attacking and killing an avatar in an online game on purpose
- Creating a fake online profile and pretending to be someone else
Not all conflicts online are cyberbullying.
Some are reasonable arguments and disagreements between kids that spill over to social media. Others are playful banter, inside jokes, or even trash-talking, especially when playing games.
How can you tell if a particular behavior is cyberbullying? If a child does any of the examples listed above, regularly and on purpose, then it’s cyberbullying.
How do you find out if your child is getting cyberbullied?
As mentioned above, cyberbullies can use any form of media to reach their victims.
Kids are getting more tech-savvy by the day, which is why parents need to keep a close watch on their child’s online and offline habits.
Signs of cyberbullying vary for each child, but there are similar behavior patterns to look out for:
- Your child gets upset during or after using social media
- Your child wants to stop or stops using one or all forms of digital media and electronic devices
- Your child is always nervous or shows anxiety when getting an IM, text, or email
- Your child avoids discussions about gaming, cell phones, and computers
- Your child is very secretive of their digital life
The effects don’t stop online, so you have to watch out for these warning signs as well:
- Your child withdraws from friends, family, and activities s/he used to love
- Your child avoids school and group gatherings
- Your child’s grades are slipping
- Temper and anger tantrums or “acting out” at home
- Mood swings, changes in behavior, sleeping patterns, and loss of appetite
Here are four tips to prevent cyberbullying.
1) Talk with your child about cyberbullying and set clear instructions on what to do if they experience it (e.g., report it to an adult, ignore, and block the bully online or on your cell phone).
2) Go over the school safety and security guidelines, which provide valuable information about how to keep students safe from threats that originate at school.
3) Take your child out into the community to practice their social skills and public awareness.
These skills can translate and help your child deal with the online world better.
4) You may decide to monitor and/or limit computer and gadget use for your child.
Check out the informative infographic below for more information on cyberbullying.
Education and Behavior – Keeping Adults on the Same Page for Kids!
Rachel Wise is the author and founder of Education and Behavior. Rachel created Education and Behavior in 2014 for adults to have an easy way to access research-based information to support children in the areas of learning, behavior, and social-emotional development. As a survivor of abuse, neglect, and bullying, Rachel slipped through the cracks of her school and community. Education and Behavior hopes to play a role in preventing that from happening to other children. Rachel is also the author of Building Confidence and Improving Behavior in Children: A Guide for Parents and Teachers.
“Children do best when there is consistency within and across settings (i.e., home, school, community). Education and Behavior allows us to maintain that consistency.”