What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is bullying that occurs on digital devices such as cell phones, computers and tablets. Cyberbullying can happen through SMS, text and online apps on social networks, forums or games where people can view, join, or share content. It includes submitting, posting, or sharing fake, negative or malicious content about others. It may include sharing personal or private information about another person, causing shame or humiliation for them. Some online threats cross the line into illegal or criminal behavior.
That is the reasons why you have to sensor any strange behaviors of your kids because it may the signs of cyberbullying, and you might want to do something before it’s getting too late.
Where does Cyberbullying usually take place?
- Social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok
- Online game communities such as League of Legends, Pubg, The Arena of Valor, etc.
- Messaging application on mobile or tablet device
- Instant messaging, online chat applications over the internet: Google Talk, Slack, Jabber, Spark, etc
- Online forums, chat rooms such as Reddit
Aware of the situation
While 95% of teens are using smartphones, 87% of young people have seen cyberbullying occurring online, so there’s a higher risk of potential harm for your child. You may probably know Hana Kimura, a Japanese professional wrestler, has died at the age of 22. She had been cyber-bullied. This somehow proves that the more the Internet develops, the more serious cyberbully becomes. Bullying happens everywhere on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, emails.
Given the pathbreaking technological changes, your children are living in the most bullying-vulnerable environment than ever, be a friend staying by their side, continuously monitor your teens’ mobile devices and their online behaviors to stay ahead and well-prepare for any potential threats.
Concerns about cyberbullying are growing
With the popularity of social media and digital tools, both acquaintances and strangers can view everything shared by individuals. Although the content that an individual shares online is from their personal point of view, if it is a negative or harmful one, it will create a permanent public profile.
This public profile can be considered an online reputation, can be accessed by schools, employers, colleges, clubs and others who may be researching an individual now or in the future. Cyberbullying can harm the online reputation of all involved – not just people being bullied, but also those who are committing or participating in bullying. The online threat has unique concerns, it can be:
- Continuity – Digital devices provide immediate and uninterrupted communication 24 hours a day, so children facing cyber bullying may find it difficult to have a gap.
- Permanent – Most information communicated and exchanged in the virtual world lasts forever, if not reported. If someone’s reputation is condemned, it can negatively affect his/her employment and other areas of life.
- Difficult to identify – Because online bullying is present in the virtual world, both teachers and parents may not realize that online bullying is happening rather than normal bullying. And once realized, it may have gone too far. For one more reason, children who are bullied online will not tell their parents.
Why children often don’t tell their parents if he/she is a cyberbullying victim?
Things often don’t happen in a way we think it’s should happen obviously. Unfortunately, many kids don’t tell their parents that they are being threatened online. They may not know exactly what cyberbullying is. Make sure your child understands that if someone spread rumors about them online, posts fake profiles about them, or sends them malicious messages or emails, it is cyberbullying.
Even when children realize they are being bullied, they may not be sure how to handle the situation. Instead of speaking up, they just keep quiet while trying to figure it out. They may worry that if they complain, the bullying will get worse. Or they may feel that some attention from other children – even if it’s negative – is better than nothing.
Children can also be afraid of losing their online personal rights. They may worry that their parents will solve the problem by taking away their cell phones and computers.
So, it’s your job to observe your kids’ behaviors and if some of them are listed in the signs of cyberbullying below. It’s time to take action right away.
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11 signs of Cyberbullying
Here are some cyberbullying warning signs indicating that your child could be its target. As mentioned, most kids won’t speak up or tell their parents about being bullied online, so you need to be both fast and knowledgeable to recognize suspicious online bullying signs in time, avoiding the worse consequences later.
If you notice that your child has some or more of the signs shown below, immediately identify and respond to what is upsetting your child. To do that, approach your child with gentle, supportive conversations, ask questions and express concerns, and you will be able to discover more of what is causing the changes in your child’s negative behavior.
Your child’s mood changes erratically
After being bullied online, your child will tend to become withdrawn, have low self-esteem, and lose interest in activities that they used to enjoy. And vice versa, they can completely become angry, worried or unnecessarily over-complain about small things. Take any mood swing seriously and check right away if it becomes too obvious and consistent. Sometimes you just need to ask your kids a simple question, “Are you okay?” will help your child feel a lot more empathetic.
Another example is when your kids are playing online games and getting so angry that they crash the device or throw it away. This outburst of anger is one of the warning signs of cyberbullying, as children can do this as a way to stay away from bullies.
Your child’s behavior changes suddenly
A sudden drop in grades or changes in habits like eating and drinking are also note-worthy. Your child can also change the route from school to home, refuse to follow the same path or begin refusing to go to school with their peers, and of course, when the reasons they give to explain these things are not convincing enough.
Loss of interest in hobbies
If your child suddenly loses interest in a sport or their favorite hobby, it could be a sign of cyberbullying. They may be trying to distance themselves from others who are the bullies or trying to fit in. Talk to your children and continue to encourage them to do what makes them happy, especially they don’t have to live for others.
Discomfort, anxiety or fear about going to school or going out
This is a major warning sign that your child is uncomfortable in school or classmates’ activities. Not wanting to go to school with their friends mentioned above is a typical example. Some other signs are your kids are constantly asking if they can skip class and stay at home or frequently calling their parents asking to go home early during the school day.
The way your child answer your question about school
Ask your child about their friends and if it is a particularly negative response, you might mention more consideration of it. If he indirectly answers your question by saying something like “there’s a lot of drama at school” or “I have no friends.” If your child suddenly wants to avoid certain social relationships, such as hanging out with a specific group of friends, your child is most likely being bullied.
Your child pull themselves away from friends and family
If even with close friends and family, your kids tend to pull themselves away, this could very well be an attempt to distance people in life, especially those bullying them. Make sure you are there and ready to listen if they want to talk about anything.
Unknown causes of losing weight or gaining weight
Health-related symptoms like headache, stomach pain or picky appetite are just some of the many serious signs of cyberbullying that can physically harm your child. Parents need to be on the lookout for these symptoms because if this phenomenon continues, it can deteriorate a child’s health very quickly.
Difficulty sleeping at night or become sleepy during the day
Restlessness is a huge factor when it comes to cyberbullying. Children cannot sleep because they are tormented by what bullies are saying about them. This can then affect the child for the remainder of the day, making their school day more difficult as they try to deal with lessons and classmates.
Become more secretive
Your child doesn’t want to share about social accounts and online activities. Increased secrecy is another big warning sign when it comes to online bullying. Children will try to hide what’s going on to keep quiet as many victims are afraid to speak out, especially to their parents.
Also, when using social media, is your child annoyed or angry with messages or emails? Or other reactions that cannot explain why? It’s important to pay attention to unusual emotional responses when your child is on social media – it may mean that your child is feeling uncomfortable with something.
Children suddenly seem depressed or antisocial.
If your child seems unhappy and just wants to be alone in the room, he/she can be a cyberbullying victim. To improve his/her mood, try planning family outdoor activities or even a picnic to take them out of that confined environment. It will also let your child know that your family is always there to support them.
Make statements about suicide or attempt suicide
This is the highest warning sign of cyberbullying indicating that things got so worse that your child doesn’t believe in living anymore. You must take these seriously! Contact the therapist and school administration immediately.
You can find more crucial information about your kids development in UNICEF, Safety Kids, Cyberbullying, or specifically about your kids online environment with us.
How can you help your child?
If online bullying doesn’t stop, in the long run, it could put your child at risk of depression, failing to learn at school or even suicide. However, when you have gone through the above signs, and you believe that your child is being the victim of online bullying. Here are some things you can try:
Start by talking with your child. You can initiate a conversation by telling a story that you were bullied as a child or about an example of cyberbullying that you heard on the news.
If your child doesn’t want to mention it, calmly tell him that you will take control of his or her computer and phone temporarily. You can know what your kids do online and what they have deleted. Once you are sure your child is being bullied, you can do things to stop it.
Suggest your child let the bullies know you have access to his or her electronic device: “I know this sounds crazy, but my parents have administration of this computer right now so they can see everything. I cannot control what my parents do.”
If that doesn’t work and the online bullying gets more intense and frequent, you may need to take one or all of the following three steps:
- Talk to the parents of children who are bullying your children. Let them know what’s going on and how it affects your child.
- Contact your child’s guidance counselor or principal.
If neither of those works, you may need law enforcement involvement. To do this, you should keep evidence of bullying in case you need to report it to the police.
If there is any sign of anxiety, loneliness, and other problems resulting from bullying, consider seeking professional help. There are many options for emotional support for your child. You don’t have to do it alone.
You know cyberbullying is and how it left horrible consequences on your kids. We believe 11 warning signs of cyberbullying above will help you find out if your child is being bullied online as soon as possible. However, cyberbullying is just one of the hundreds online threats out there sneaking to harm your child, because it also has pornography, drugs, bloody, horror content, etc. that only a small exposure to them can make your child trouble sleeping/eating.