Cyberbullying is dangerous, and can be at least as harmful as bullying that happens in the schoolyard or the child’s community. Cyberbullying can lead to many problems ranging from depression, to anger, to a lack of self-esteem. Cyberbullying can even lead a child to the point of suicide - a parent's worst nightmare.
Before cyberbullying becomes an issue for your child, learn how to detect it and stop it in its tracks.
Does your child seem depressed for no reason that you can pinpoint? It is possible that they are being bullied online. Keep an open dialogue with your child about their feelings and about everything that is going on in his or her life. This way, if cyberbullying is happening to them, it will feel natural for them to talk about it.
Anger After Internet Use
Don’t jump too quickly to punish and shut down your child’s unexplained anger. It is far more helpful to find out the root cause of it. Let your child know they can confide in you, and stay calm during conversations to prove that you are a safe person for your child to talk to. If your child’s anger seems to flare up after being on the internet, it is a sign that they may be a victim of cyberbullying.
Mentioning the Bullying
If your child mentions any cyberbullying, don’t take it lightly. Remain calm so that your child continues to see you as their advocate, but jump to action immediately. Do what you can to resolve the bullying, and if things cannot be stopped then you may have to make the difficult choice to insist that your child take a break from the activity until things change, for their protection.
If your child has mentioned the bullying, be thankful, because the majority of cyberbullying victims don’t let their parents know about it.
Being Secretive about Online Activities
As mentioned, although a few children will talk about online bullying, most keep it a secret from their parents. If your child doesn’t seem to want to talk about their online experiences, make note of it. If your child quickly shuts down the computer when you enter the room, or refuses to respond to your questions about their online activities, dig deeper.
Withdrawing from “Real Life” Friends and Family
Cyberbullying affects every area of a child’s life. One sign it may be happening to your child is if they are withdrawing from their family and friends. When a child’s self-esteem is harmed through cyberbullying, their “real life” relationships will suffer as well. This is a clear sign that you need to find out what may be happening online.
Cyberbullying can be difficult to handle because many online users misuse the anonymity as a shield to be able to do or say anything without consequence. If you can expose and therefore stop an online bully, do it. If you cannot make it stop, you may have to remove your child from online activities.
With the help of these tips, you will be able to figure out if your child is the victim of online bullying and put an end to it so that they can get back to a healthy, safe, and happy life.