Over the past year I’ve had more and more clients report issues with their children experiencing cyber bullying, and have even had some of my younger clients relay their first hand experiences with it. So, I’m happy to publish this guest post from Anna Blake who recently released an educational children’s book on Internet safety.
How to Prevent Cyber Bullying
By: Anna Blake
Cyber bullying is becoming an epidemic and it has a serious impact on the mental health of both children and adults. You or your child can fall victim to cyber bullies at any time, even if you did not in any way engage with the perpetrators or provoke the attack. It is important to know how to prevent cyber bullying before it gets out of hand.
You should actively monitor your children’s online activities, so you can identify possible cyber bullying situations. The internet provides a level of disconnect that emboldens cyber bullies to say and do things they wouldn’t do in the real world. Your child may not know how to handle these attacks, so it is up to you to step in and handle the situation for them.
Make sure to take screenshots and save any audio or video messages, if you can. If the cyber bullies are known to you or your child, take appropriate action to report their behavior. For younger kids, you can inform the school, as most districts have a proactive policy that aims to stamp out cyber bullying. Otherwise, you may need to contact the police and determine whether the issue is within the realm of their cyber bullying unit, or to ask for a referral to a local organization that can help.
Tell your child not to engage with the cyber bullies and block them once you have enough evidence of potentially unlawful activities. It is also essential you protect you or your child’s personal information, as cyber bullies will use it as a threat or means to intimidate. Ideally, you will have had a conversation with your child about not sharing personal information in group chats, forums, or social media platforms that they wouldn’t share in the real world.
Signs of Cyber Active Bullying
If you notice your child does not want to spend as much time online, it may indicate she is being cyber bullied. Handle the situation gently and discuss reasons why she does not want to go online. You cannot help your child resolve the issue if there is a barrier to communication. Cyber bullying can cause a child to feel embarrassed and weak, so an understanding and empathetic approach is ideal.
Look and listen for signs of cyber bullying when your child is online. Preferably, online devices should only be used when you are in the room and able to effectively monitor what is going on, without encroaching too much on your child’s internet time. If a child is making a conscious effort to hide the device screen, it should set off alarm bells that something is not right.
Children are not as equipped to handle conflict as adults are, so monitor your child’s emotions while online. If she seems angry or upset, there is a very good chance it is due to cyber bullying. Encouraging your child to discuss their problems at this stage may prove difficult. However, you need to establish what is going on in order to help.
When a child changes her name on social media or creates a completely different account for no apparent reason, she is likely being stalked and tormented by cyber bullies. If you ignore these signs, the issue will only escalate to the point where your child feels there is nowhere left to turn. She will become withdrawn and emotionally distressed in social situations. This is the time where you must let your child know you are a trusted ally who will stand by her side.
Due to the fact that cyber bullying has become such a serious problem, there is plenty of support available for parents and kids. If you are finding it difficult to help your child, don’t be afraid to reach out to schools, public authorities, and any local support groups that are involved in combating cyber bullying.
About Anna Blake
Anna is a stay at home mom, wife and owner of very demanding cat, from sunny Chatsworth, California. When she is not busy chasing her 2 year old around, you can find her trying out new salad recipes or re-watching favorite chick-flick movies.
Together with her hubby they educate kids and adults about internet safety through their website and recently created an educational children’s book Internet Kids – Road Trip.