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Cyberbullying

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What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is when a child of any age uses electronic technology to persistently bully another child.  This may be via the internet, mobile phones, social media sites, or any other form of communications media.  Cyberbullying is done exclusively by children, to other children.

The child is typically subjected to torments, threats, harassment, or humiliation of some form.  Rumours, nasty text messages, embarrassing pictures and fake profiles or comments on social media sites are all examples of cyberbullying.cyberbullying

Signs to Watch for in Children Being Bullied

The effects of these actions can be devastating for the child involved.  Look out for the following general behaviours in your child, which may suggest they have fallen victim to the cyberbullies:

  • unhealthy level of interest in using the computer, or conversely avoiding using the computer and other technologies altogether
  • unwillingness to share what they are doing on the computer
  • nerves or anxiety when an text or email notification appears
  • becoming unusually withdrawn from friends and/or family
  • reluctance to go outside, or to school

Signs Your Child May be the Cyberbully

Fitting in and being part of the crowd is important to children of all ages and some seek popularity or respect through the bullying of others.  It may be uncomfortable to consider, but your child may be engaging in cyberbullying if they are showing any of the following signs:

  • secretive behaviour around the computer
  • excessive laughing when using the computer
  • over-use of the computer, and late night sessions online away from parental supervision
  • having multiple online accounts or personalities

How to Prevent It

Increase your own awareness of cyberbullying, and your vigilance around your child’s use of media.   Simple things such as not allowing your child to spend excessive hours online, or using mobile/smart phones can help.  Visibility is important too.  Allowing your child to hibernate in their bedroom unsupervised for hours on end with technology at their fingertips is frankly asking for trouble.cyberbullying

Talking to your child in an age appropriate way about cyberbullying can help raise their awareness.  Allow and encourage them to voice their experiences and fears if they have any, and offer suggestions on how they can deal with cyberbullying should they experience it personally.

Discussing the emotions that can be involved in cyberbullying in an abstract way can be a useful tool – a television programme plot-line may provide a safe opportunity to talk about cyberbullying and how it makes the characters feel, for example.  Developing understanding and empathy in your child will give them the confidence to cope and seek help if they experience cyberbullying themselves.

Educating your child in the sensible use of technologies is also key.  Tips such as never sharing photos or making comments that they wouldn’t want made public are simple but effective.  Making sure they are aware of the consequences of cyberbullying will also help to prevent them from participating in the activity themselves, irrespective of peer pressure.

What You Can Do to Help

  • Be aware that cyberbullying exists, and help your child communicate if they are experiencing it
  • Seek help early – from the school, and if necessary from law enforcement
  • Block the cyberbully from continuing communications, and don’t respond
  • Save evidence of the cyberbullying, including messages, times, and dates.  These can help in developing a strategy to stop the activity
  • Report the cyberbullying to media service providers, as such activity may violate their terms of service and they may be able to take action against the perpetrator

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About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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