Cyberbullying is the act of deliberately using technology to harm another individual. Adults have a hard time dealing with a cyberbully, but a teenager may not know how to handle the situation. Teach your child to never give out their personal information online, as some bullies will use this information to potentially harm your child. The best way to handle an online bully is to keep logs of hurtful/hateful comments or threats, using screen shot tools. Next block the person who is harassing you or your teenager. Be aware that once you block the bully, they may retaliate and create a new account so that they can continue harassing you or your teen. Protect yourself by learning how to be aware of what is going on around you while you are online, just as if you were walking around in the mall. At the mall you are paying attention to what is going on around you, the same tactic should be used online as well. Never add people that you don’t personally know or people who don’t have any profile information filled out. If you feel that your teenager is being bullied on or offline, you should keep an eye out for the following side effects: loneliness, lowered self-esteem, disappointment, disbelief, mistrust, self harm, and suicide. Today, I wanted to share some tips on how to handle a cyberbully from Tara Heath.
Disclosure: This post is for informational purposes only. Please contact local police department if your child is being attacked by a cyberbully. They will let you know how to proceed and potentially file charges against the person.
Is your child is being bullied? And though you may have experienced similar harassment as an adolescent, somehow this modern version feels much more sinister. How is it different from old-school taunting, and what can you do to help?
New Technology Presents New Problems
Bullying has always been an issue, but new technology escalated an age-old dilemma, turning teasing into a horrific game with sometimes deadly consequences. Before smartphones and high-speed internet, kids were picked on at school and on the playground. It was still traumatic, but at least victims could see their perpetrators, and found some relief once they got home from school.
Now, cyberbullying follows kids into our homes and inside their bedrooms. And teens and pre-teens may not even know the identity of their aggressors. How can our kids defend against a masked bully?
The problem is widespread. Researchers estimate that 20-30% of students will fall victim to cyberbullying, and a whopping 10-20% will cyberbully a fellow classmate. Though the numbers are daunting, there are steps you can take.
Listen and Remain Calm
It’s hard for children to admit that they’re being bullied. Victims of cyberbullying often feel guilty, embarrassed, or ashamed of the state of their social life. Your child may be afraid that coming forward will only exacerbate the problem, or that you will pull them out of school or offline.
In order to open the line of communication and ensure your son or daughter is responsive, start by asking them questions. Try to keep your voice level and soft, and keep the wording neutral. Refrain (though it will be hard) from interrupting and trying to fix the problem.
Instead, ask how long the bullying has been going on and who is doing it. Then sit back and listen. Let your child talk until they have nothing left to say. Then keep asking them questions. Your student needs to know that their voice is being heard, that they are in a safe space free of judgement, and that they can vent to you. Ask what platforms the bullies are using (Facebook, Twitter, chat rooms, instant message). Then thank your child for trusting and confiding in you.