Along with the Internet, cyberbullying is becoming more vicious and happening 24/7 in the virtual world. Cyberbullying can be anonymous, not traceable, and spread faster than ever. There have been cases of young victims who took their life due to online harassment: Ashlynn Conner, Megan Meier, Hailee Lamberth, etc. you name it.
Preventing cyberbullying doesn’t mean avoiding all the Internet tools and refusing its utilities to our life. Instead, it’s time to have a watchful eye on what’s going to harm your child’s online environment, and this article will show you How to prevent Cyberbullying in 8 steps, keeping your kids safe from those online potential threats.
What is Cyberbullying?
Bullying is when someone has deliberately repeated behaviors of using words or actions to hurt other’s feelings, making them feel bad, embarrassed which, in the long term, can lead to anxiety, depression, self-harm or even suicide.
Cyberbullying is another form of bullying, using technology like the internet, emails, social media, smartphones, online game communities, etc. to harm people.
What is the first step of how to prevent Cyberbullying?
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, make them believe that you are always there if they need help. Also, you need to stay ahead to recognize cyberbullying signs and well-prepare for any potential threats by continuously updating information.
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To stay ahead and well-prepare for any potential threats, keep learning and updating yourself with useful information. According to a Google survey in December 2018, cyberbullying is considered to be the No.1 classroom safety issue for kids.
As parents, it’s crucial to learn all the signs (will be listed later) which show that your child is being bullied or be a bully, all for an on-time solution.
A misconception is that girls are more likely a victim than boys. Actually, both genders can be both victims and bullies. While boys tend to threaten by using violence, a physical approach, girls concentrate on a more emotional way, tormenting others using speech to undermine their victim’s self-esteem.
Recognize the Signs
A cyberbullied child is often embarrassed and afraid of encountering more bullies if the bully knows he/she has told an adult, so they may hesitate talking about his or her day. They didn’t tell you anything doesn’t mean everything is okay, you must be able to spot the signs indicating your child is the victim of cyberbullying:
-An unexplained dip in academic performance
-Be shy, anxious, depressed, stressed out
-Lose interest in favorite activities
-Changes in sleeping or eating habits
-Stop using the computer or any device that connect to the Internet
-Or worse, attempt self-harm or threaten suicide, etc.
For those who are aggressors, take into account these behaviors:
-Judge others on their appearance: If your child spends lots of time on makeup, hair, clothes,… or takes the number of followers or likes on social media too seriously, your child may judge other appearances easily, which might lead to malicious body-shaming statements (mostly true for girls).
-Aggressive: Many teens express anger through actions or words when things are not as they expected. If your child can’t control his/her anger at home and often gets triggered with family members, it can also happen at school.
According to a research from the Pew Research Center, 95% of teens are connected to the Internet, among them, 85% are social media users. Regarding such a high exposure to the virtual world, they must have witnessed or even encountered some forms of bullying.
A bully makes himself or herself feel better by tormenting those around them, in short, making the victims feel worse is any bully’s target. So, instead of being emotional, be LOGICAL. Thinking logically requires both acknowledgement and ignorance.
For those witnessing the cyber attacks, reporting it to friends, teachers or family members. And for those being bullied, instead of responding to the attacks, just avoid it.
The best response is no response at all. Block the bully not only where they bully you but all the accounts they exist on: social media including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat to email accounts. Blocking not only stops them making malicious claims to your child, stalking your child every updating post, but it also prevents them from targeting his/her mutual contacts.
Don’t strike back
Two wrongs don’t make a right. By fighting back, some being bullied become bullies themselves. This might be a way to solve the problem, however, the feelings your child gets after fighting back might trigger a more defensive, aggressive behavior in the future.
If this continues and escalates, they might get triggered easily when things go wrong. The point is the same as the above: Just don’t engage.
As everyone has different conceptions and perspectives, educate your child to listen, respect the differences of each individual and absolutely not monopolize the truth. And if others make malicious claims to them, tell them you understand their impulse to retaliate, but things will only get worse unless they don’t get involved in that way.
Don’t ignore. Be open and vigilant
While 37% of young people (12-17 ages) have been bullied online and 30% of them have had it happen more than once (according to “2019 Cyberbullying data” by Patchin), only 1 in 10 teen victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse, according to the National Crime Prevention Council.
Hesitating to tell parents may come from the lack of communication between family members, or they’re afraid that the harassment will get worse if the bully finds out they’ve told an adult, or maybe because of fear and embarrassment.
No matter what the reason is, whether your child will endure irreversible psychological trauma depends on parents to be sensitively vigilant, always showing the willingness of listening and sharing difficulty with the children. If you believe your child is being bullied, or is a bully (based on the signs above), just reaching out immediately, raising the issue with teachers, school administrators or even a therapist when necessary.
Keep the evidence
Because of a cyberbullying campaign with abusive and hurtful messages, David Molak, a 15-year-old boy, hung himself in his backyard. Or, Hailee Lamberth, 13 years old, took her life due to continued cyberbullying through online platforms and forums targeted at her health condition.
Cyberbullying sometimes may cross the line from aggravation to unlawful or criminal harassment. For this tragedy won’t happen to your child, recognize any signs showing your child is being bullied. Reaching them immediately, taking screenshots and saving all posts, messages and threats from the bully and bringing everything to the school administration and even the police if you feel that things are too serious to handle on your own.
Make it all private
Prevention is always better than cure. When referring to online posting behavior, it’s important to limit the number of personal photos and information that your child posts. The best thing is only share with people who are close and trustworthy, or otherwise leave them private.
Also, increasing security for applications. Use password management tools like two-factor authentication on Facebook to keep your teen online identities safe. Creating secure passwords, changing it regularly and never disclose passwords, PINs, passcodes… Besides, be cautious and never leave private assets such as phones, computers in public places so that attacks won’t have the opportunity to enter and steal their information.
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