45% of the students interviewed have experienced different types of cyberbullying, according to the latest survey by the Cyberbullying Research Center. This is absolutely not a small number, and what will happen if parents discover that their child is also in the 45% who is cyberbullied?
More seriously, today’s online violence is not simply leaving negative comments under social posts, it can even threaten your child’s life. Parents, if you don’t want to see your children struggling with being traumatized by online bullies, you need to be well aware of how they act, starting with this article!
What types of cyberbullying are there?
Swatting is a type of online harassment that is commonly used by players of online games such as Call Of Duty, Counter Strike, and DOTA. More specifically, the attacker will contact the mobile police force, constructing a scary story to trick them into attacking the victim’s family.
For children, this behavior seems like a prank, however, it can have incalculable consequences. In 2019, an Ohio teenager was arrested in connection with a series of “swatting” calls with police in upstate New York and across the country. The 17-year-old has been charged with 40 felonies and 33 misdemeanors in Mahoning County, Ohio.
In a more serious case, after an argument on Call Of Duty, Barriss decided to prank a player. He called the police, masquerading as Finch and telling police he had just shot his father and was holding his family hostage. Based on the address he provided, police went to Finch’s home, and before Finch knew anything, an officer took a shot and killed the innocent man.
From the examples above, parents can see that this behavior can have severe consequences. For children, this may just be a harmless prank, however, they can face compensation or even imprisonment.
More dangerously, if pranked, your child’s life could be threatened as in the case of Finch above. Stress, extreme panic, insomnia,… can also happen to your child when they have to witness the chaotic scene when the mobile police barge in and investigate the house.
Trolling is a common form of cyberbullying on social media. When a person makes unwanted or controversial comments, they are considered trolling. Some other variations of this violence include:
- Pretend to be a fan and offer constructive criticism to show their hostility.
- Gaslighting: When someone tells a story or misinformation to make the other person doubt themselves, this behavior is considered gaslighting.
- Dogpiling: This behavior occurs when a group works together to overwhelm the target. They incorporate a variety of tactics to question, intimidate, and insult the person’s social accounts in order to discredit or humiliate them.
When a child’s psyche is not stable, being trolled can ruin their life. The story of 16-year-old Jessica Laney is an example. The ill-fated girl was found to have committed suicide at her home in Florida after being cyberbullied by users on social media sites. They called her ‘fat’, ‘sl*t’ and belittled her for her appearance and relationship.
In addition, being bullied on social media can cause children to have a serious lack of self-esteem and always be in a state of panic and anxiety. If parents don’t find out in time, children can suffer from psychological diseases such as depression, social phobia,… In a worse case, to end the persistent suffering, they can reach out for death as in the case of Jessica Laney.
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Revenge porn is defined as pornography that has been recorded or shared without the consent of the other person. When a relationship ends, the abuser wants revenge on their partner and they choose to threaten or distribute intimate photos between the two of them online.
According to a 2018 revenge porn survey, more than 500 children were victims of these types of cyberbullying. The average age of the victims is 15, however, there are cases of children as young as 8 or 10 years old being attacked with this form of violence.
The consequences of revenge porn are extremely serious, especially when your child is a teenager. One victim shared her story in The Washington Post. During her senior year of high school, her private video was spread without her permission. The incident left her with depression, and she had to deal with it alone during Covid-19.
Young victims describe revenge porn as a constant, looming threat of being violated whenever the abuser wants. This psychological torture causes children to suffer from extreme anxiety, leading to psychological ailments such as depression, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, etc. More seriously, children are at a very high risk of being sexually stigmatized and harassed by their peers.
What should parents do if their child experiences cyberbullying?
Needless to say, parents play an important role in preventing this toxic behavior from attacking children. More specifically, parents can:
- Use an online content filtering tool
If you have ever been:
- Anxious when letting children go online, afraid they will be exposed to toxic content?
- Exhausted when you have to count their screen time and constantly remind them to turn off the device?
- Weary when they keep begging for “5 more mins” but it always lasts more than 30 mins?
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- Teach your child about cyber safety
In today’s era of cyber threats, it is extremely necessary to teach your children about cybersecurity. It is important to constantly remind your child not to provide a home address/ GPS to anyone. When your children are educated about cybersecurity, they can better protect themselves even when their parents are not there.
- Talk to your child like friends to friends
In these cases, children do not reach out to their parents due to anxiety and fear of scolding parents. So how to know if your child is being bullied online? The answer is that parents need to talk to their children every day, about events at school, online, etc. To make the conversation comfortable, parents should listen to them with enthusiasm and try not to judge them.
- Discuss cyber violence with your child
Children need to be aware of the dangers that can occur to them, therefore, parents need to regularly educate their children about cyber violence knowledge: types of cyberbullying, its harm, etc. To help kids deal with cyberbullying better, the family can also set hypothetical situations of being cyberbullied and discuss solutions together.
The above article has provided parents with an overview of the common types of cyberbullying, thereby helping parents to prevent these things from happening to their children. The most important thing parents need to do is to regularly be by their side, talk to and accompany their children in all matters, from small to big ones.
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