Cyberbullying is a growing issue affecting young people everywhere.
It’s an inescapable form of harassment that can have damaging long-term effects on its victims. According to the i-Safe Foundation, 42% of kids and teens have been the target of cyberbullying.
It’s up to you as a parent to be on the lookout for the warning signs. Here’s what you need to know.
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is bullying that occurs via an electronic device (smartphone, tablet, computer, etc).
This may sound relatively harmless in comparison to face-to-face bullying. The reality is that it can be equally, if not more harmful to victims.
Before smart phones and social media, bullies had a fairly limited reach. Now they have the ability to torment their victims anytime, anywhere.
Cyberbullies: Hard to Avoid
In years past, a bully’s intimidation occurred mostly on school grounds. A child experiencing bullying could count on being able to escape to the safety of home at the end of the school day.
That’s changed now that most children use multiple internet-connected devices at home. Kids get home from school and go online to check Instagram, watch YouTube videos, or play video games.
These types of social platforms are where bullying becomes cyberbullying. It can take the form of a tagged photo with a mocking caption shared on Instagram, a critical public Facebook status, or a taunting group text message.
The impact can be more devastating than face-to-face bullying because of the public and permanent nature of these platforms.
A post can be seen by hundreds of followers and stays there until the bully decides to take it down. This leaves the victim feeling both humiliated and totally helpless.
The unfortunate reality is that over half of kids experiencing cyberbullying do not report it to their parents.
What To Look For
Find out if your child is being targeted by proactively monitoring their social profiles and text messages.
If you find intimidating texts, try to identify the cyberbully by phone number using a reverse phone search so you can get in touch with the school or parents about the issue.
If your child has private social profiles or messages using a texting app, it’s up to you as a parent to be on the lookout for the red flags that could indicate your child is suffering.
Some common signs include:
- Noticeable decline in school performance (grades dropping)
- Unexplained injuries
- Unexplained damage to clothes, school supplies or phone
- Lack of energy (apathy)
- Changes in eating habits (student may be skipping lunch), weight loss
- Sudden changes to social life, such as not want to be around certain friends anymore
If you recognize one or more of these signs, trust your instincts and step in. At the very least, have an open conversation so that your child knows they can turn to you for help.
Knowing they have an ally will make a huge difference. Talk to your child today.