3 Things Parents Need to Know About Cyberbullying

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3 Things Parents Need to Know About Cyberbullying

  The landscape of bullying has evolved over the years, and many parents are finding it harder to combat. Compared to traditional forms of schoolyard harassment, cyberbullying is particularly difficult for parents to spot because it happens out of sight. Researchers suggest up to 43 percent of teens become victims of cyberbullying at some point, and in extremely unfortunate cases, the extent of this harassment has driven children to take their own lives.  So, how can we protect our children in the first place? Here are some things to look out for — as well as some actions you can take — to prevent cyberbullying and stop it in its tracks before your child becomes a victim. 

1. How to Spot it

 Cyberbullying can take various forms:

  • Harassing someone over email, text, or instant messaging

  • Posting rumors, embarrassing information, or threats on social networking sites

  • Impersonating someone to embarrass or villainize them

  • Sharing or threatening to share degrading photos or videos

  • Commenting with shaming remarks on social media

Unfortunately, many victims of cyberbullying remain silent due to embarrassment, threats from their bullies, or fear of how their parents will react. As a parent, it's your job to know what to look for so you can spot the signs that your child is being harassed online. One of the first things you may notice is your child spending an unusual amount of time on the internet — either much less or much more than they did before. Pay attention to how your child acts after being online. If they seem withdrawn, angry, or upset, take this as a warning sign. They may also seem uneasy about going to school, shut down their social media accounts, or avoid social events that they used to enjoy. 

2. How to Respond

 If you suspect your child is the victim of cyberbullying, talk to them about it right away. Approach the subject delicately, and ask your child for details about the incident, including how long it's been going on and who is involved. Listen to your child without passing judgment or blame. According to Webroot, it’s important to validate your child’s emotions instead of making them feel weak or at fault for their situation. Once you have a better grasp of the problem, you can take the next steps to put an end to it. First, tell your child to stop engaging with their bullies immediately. Download and take screenshots of photos, videos, comments, and posts before reporting the incident in case the bully removes them. You can then report the cyberbullying event to the social networking sites where it occurred, your child’s school, and the police if necessary.In the meantime, keep a close eye on your child for signs of depression, and have them join a cyberbullying support group if they seem especially depressed, anxious, or isolated. 

3. How to Prevent it

 According to Parents.com, there are many preventative actions parents can take to help their child avoid becoming a victim of cyberbullying: 

  • Keep the computer in a common area where you can monitor it.

  • Learn about social networking sites. Ask to see your child's profile page, and check on it regularly.

  • Tell your child not to reply to cyberbullying comments online.

  • Keep an open conversation with your child about the risks of using the internet.

  • Let your kid know they can always come to you with their concerns.

 When cyberbullying gets particularly serious, especially when violent threats are made against your child, it may be necessary to take legal action. Some U.S. states have cyberbullying laws in place to make children more accountable for their online actions. Just make sure you hold onto any documents that can support the claims you're making against the cyberbullies. Digital forensic experts like Secure Forensics can help you track down evidence and obtain proof of the cyberbullying incidents to be used in your legal case.No parent wants to learn that their child is the victim of cyberbullying, but if you catch it early, you can stop it from escalating into a situation that puts your child’s mental health and physical well-being at risk. Educating yourself on internet safety and being aware of this serious issue will help you act in your child's best interest so you can help them stay out of harm's way.Guest Blog Contribution: Daniel Sherwin (Dad Solo)