Protecting your child from cyberbullying is a relatively new concern. While cyberbullying is a phenomenon that older generations may have a hard time relating to, it is a fact of life for young people today, and it can strike any of them without warning.
And cyberbullying doesn’t just touch the lives of the antagonist and their victim—almost every child has witnessed cyberbullying on their own social media feeds.
If your child has been involved in cyberbullying, or if you are interested in learning how to prevent it, here is some information you’ll want to know.
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is any bullying behavior that takes place over a digital medium. School-aged children commonly use social media, messaging, and gaming platforms to bully one another.
For digital behavior to cross the line from being simply unwanted—say, a rude or thoughtless message—to bullying, it must be aggressive and involve a real or perceived power imbalance.
Cyberbullying is also repeated behavior. Here are some common cyberbullying tactics you may observe:
- Sharing embarrassing photos or videos of a person on social media.
- Sending anonymous insults using a messaging app.
- Persistently creating new social media accounts to continue harassing an individual after they have been blocked.
6 Steps to Protect Your Child from Cyber Bullying
Cyberbullying is incredibly frustrating to try to stop because it could occur any time a young person has access to a device outside of parental supervision. The best tactic is to avoid it altogether. Here are some steps you and your child can work on together to prevent cyberbullying before it starts.
- Understand your privacy controls. Every platform allows users to control access to their profiles in one way or another. Talk seriously with your child about the safest way to set these up.
- Be smart about your password. Teach your children good password-making strategies and tell them that the only person they should share their passwords with is you.
- Protect private information. Impress upon them the importance of never sharing their home address, phone number, credit card information, or where they go to school with strangers.
- Find out what your child is doing online. Do you know the platforms they use to talk to their friends? Have they made any new connections you aren’t aware of? If your children are mature enough to have their own accounts, they should also be mature enough to inform you about what they do with them.
- Think about what you post. That matters, too!
- Find resources online. There are lots of non-profit organizations that offer free resources to bullying victims. Stopbullying.gov is a good place to start.
Responding to Cyber Bullying
If your child has already become a target of a bully, there are some effective strategies to handle the situation.
The best thing any parent can do for their child is to listen to them. Cyberbullying can be an incredibly painful experience, especially for those in adolescence, when people are most sensitive to peer acceptance and young people simply want to be heard.
Cyberbullying is different from other types of harassment in that it almost always leaves a trail. Rather than trying to control a bully’s behavior, it is more sensible to document the harassment without responding to it.
It is common that states, businesses, organizations, and school districts have explicit policies or laws prohibiting cyberbullying. Once you have evidence of bullying, the adult can alert whichever authority is responsible for ending the behavior.
At Advanced Behavioral Health, we take cyberbullying seriously.
Your child doesn’t have to face cyberbullying alone—we have an entire team of qualified mental health specialists to support you and give you the counseling you need.
You can call us at 301-345-1022 or send us a message online here. One of our team members will be standing by to help you find the confidential consultation you are searching for.