Cyberbullying – you’ve probably heard this term before. It’s a word for online bullying which, sadly, happens every single day in this digital age.
This one word is enough to strike fear in parents’ hearts nowadays. Cyberbullying is hard enough for adults to endure, but for children, the effects can be quite destructive. So, if you’d like to learn a little more about cyberbullying and learn the signs that could indicate your child is being bullied online, read on!
As children spend more and more time online, there’s more and more opportunity for them to be bullied online. It’s often thought that children who learn or think differently are more at risk of cyberbullying, so if that describes your child, you might want to consider being even more diligent.
It’s not just older children who are in danger of being bullied online. Children are being given access to mobile devices at a young age, and as soon as they have access to the internet, they could be at risk. And as a result, it may be that your teen has experienced cyberbullying more than once in their lifetime.
Unfortunately, many teens don’t tell adults when they’re being bullied, so it’s down to you to monitor their activities and spot the signs. It’s often because children are embarrassed and worried about being bullied, or they’re trying to work it out themselves.
Sign 1: They become sad, anxious, or angry when using their phone or computer, or when they get a message
This is a clear sign that they are not happy online. If you find your child seems jumpy or unhappy when they’re online, it’s time to step in and investigate the situation. You may notice that they seem distressed when they receive a notification or message – this is a clear indicator that all is not well.
Sign 2: They hide their screen when you come into the room
Or they become more secretive about their time online. This is likely because they feel uncomfortable or worried that you’ll find out. You may notice that they move the computer away or turn it off as you walk by – those are key warning signs.
Sign 3: Your teen is becoming withdrawn
Cyberbullying can be incredibly anxiety-making, and result in many people being quiet or withdrawn. They can become more insular as they try to deal with their emotions and because they’re aware they’re hiding something from you. If your teen is doing this and you have suspicions they’re being bullied, then do tread carefully when interacting with them. You don’t want to cause more trauma by exposing them in a dramatic way.
Sign 4: They have trouble sleeping or eating
The stress of cyberbullying can bleed into all aspects of life, so if you notice your child is struggling with simple things like eating or sleeping, then this could be a warning sign.
What can you do?
If you discover your teen is being bullied, it’s important first to stay calm. It may be very painful for your child, so you need to measure your reactions to ensure that they feel safe and comfortable talking to you. Reassure them as much as you can that this is not their fault and that they will be okay.
Make sure to discuss what’s going on with your child to ensure you’ve got to the bottom of it and you understand what’s going on fully. Teens are often reluctant to talk, but it’s important to pursue the topic (as delicately as you can).
Next, if it’s appropriate, collect evidence (screen-shots, printouts or recordings) that you can use to present to the school or even the police (should it come to that).
Monitoring apps like Family Orbit can come in handy in a situation like this. It’s a good idea to keep notes on the situation, including jotting down notes from your conversation with your teen, keeping tabs on important information such as the frequency and severity of the situation.
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to cyberbullying. It can be a deeply worrying process, but the sooner you can spot the signs that your child is being bullied online, then the quicker you can find a resolution.
The most important thing is making your teen feel safe, secure, and loved in the real world, away from the screens.
Hopefully, now you know how to spot signs of cyberbullying in your teen, and you know a little more about how to help.