Cyberbullying: Main Things Parents Should Know (Guest Post)

As a primary school teacher with the responsibility for ICT in the school, I take e-safety very seriously. At the beginning of each academic year, the first few weeks are spent going over how the junior school children can protect themselves and their online information, both from predators and cyberbullies. I use the CEOPs site as it gives resources for teachers and parents, as well as workshops for children to explore.

In this post by Linda Waters (mobile tech blogger, marketing executive at mSpy and writer about smartphone apps, cell phone monitoring and their benefits for families) ways in which parents can help protect their children from cyberbullies are explored and explained.

Technology says that bullying is no longer limited to street corners or schoolyards. Cyberbullying occurs everywhere, at home, through email, mobile phones and social networking sites 24/7 with the involvement of hundreds of people. The victim of cyberbullying feel angry, humiliated and in some cases goes for a suicide attempt.

Definition of Cyberbullying

“Threatening, humiliation or harassment of a teen or child by another child or teen using net, email, text message, online forum, chat room or social networking website is called cyberbullying.”

Cyberbullying Explained

Cyberbullying doesn’t involve face-to-face contact or physical strength. Cyberbullying can be used for humiliating someone in front of many people as cyberbullying could be witnessed by hundreds or even thousands of people. Cyberbullying is done usually by sending taunting or threatening messages through email, some cyberbullies break into the email account and steal person’s online identity for humiliating and hurting him. There are some cyberbullies who create a site or social media website page solely for targeting someone. Boys often cyberbully by sending messages of sexual nature or by the messages that contain threatening content. Girls have got their own way of cyberbullying: they commonly cyberbully by spreading rumors and lies about someone, exposing secrets or excluding someone from their friend lists.

Harmful Effects of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying makes a person feel sad, hurt, angry, isolated, helpless and even suicidal in worst cases. It results in problems such as low self-esteem or depression.

Cyberbullying may occur anytime and anywhere and in the places where a person is likely to feel safe and protected, it means one can’t escape cyberbullying.

Mostly cyberbullying is done by an anonymous person so it becomes very hard for you to know who is behind it and you feel kind of more threatened.

Cyberbullying could be witnessed by hundreds or even thousands of people, thus, it can be more humiliating than physical bullying.

Some Recommendations for Those Who Are Being Cyberbullied

If you ever face cyberbullying, it is recommended:

  • try to save the cyberbullying evidence like screenshot of webpage or text message;
  • report sexual messages and threats to police immediately as many cyberbully actions could be prosecuted by law;
  • most of the times, cyberbullying is not limited to only 1 or 2 incidents. Cyberbullying is usually a sustained attack on a person that lasts for a long period. Thus, one should keep on reporting everything to police or his/her guardian;
  • try not to reply to any message or email of cyberbully;
  • if you are being cyberbullied, never blame yourself as it is never your fault;
  • don’t try to harm yourself in any way as a reaction to cyberbullying;
  • try to take help from police, guardian, friend or family if you are cyberbullied;
  • try to find ways to relieve your stress like breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, positive thinking and meditation;
  • try to indulge yourself into something that can divert your attention from that particular problem like hobbies, sports or hanging out with your friends.

Warning Signs of Cyberbullying for Parents

If your child:

  • becomes distressed, angry or sad after or while using the mobile phone or internet;
  • appears worried, when receiving a text message, email or IM;
  • avoids discussions with you about his mobile or internet activities or is very secretive about them;
  • withdraws from activities, friends and family;
  • suffers drop in grades without any known reason;
  • doesn’t want to go to school or avoids particular group activities or classes;
  • shows changes in appetite, sleep, behavior or mood or shows symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Some Recommendations for Parents

Parents are recommended to prevent cyberbullying of their child before it begins. Following are the things that parents should teach their kids about cyberbullying:

  • they should delete cyberbullying messages before reading them;
  • advise their friends to stop cyberbullying too;
  • block every kind of communication with cyberbullies and never reply to their any message or mail;
  • never share or post their personal info online like Social Security number, credit card number, parents’ names;
  • school name, telephone number, address or full name;
  • never share their accounts’ passwords with anyone;
  • discuss with parents their life on Internet;
  • not place anything on Internet that they don’t want their friends or classmates view.

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