A Parent’s Guide to Cyberbullying 2014
Gone are the days when bullying was more physical. Today’s overdependence on technology and anything digital has spurred a new kind bullying – cyberbullying. It technically involves the different elements of traditional bullying – imbalance of power, the intent to do harm, and repetitive bullying – but in an entirely different mode. Today’s cyberbullying involves the use of the internet as well as any other information and communications devices to bring harm to a specific person.
The Prevalence of Cyberbullying
One out of 5 adolescents are harassed online on a regular basis with more than half of all teenagers having experienced some form of online harassment at least once in their lifetime. One out of three teenagers admit to using online means to harass or bully another teenager. And while studies show a very fluid prevalence rate of cyberbullying, with estimates ranging from as low as 8 percent to as high as 42 percent, one thing is certain – more and more young individuals are becoming vulnerable to cyberbullying.
Why are there Cyberbullies?
Just like in traditional bullying, many individuals resort to cyberbullying as a means of buoying their own self-esteem and self-confidence. It gives them the sense of power over another and get the attention of their peers. In some cases, jealousy may be at the core of the problem while others see cyberbullying as a form of revenge either against the person or against figures of authority. In some cases however, cyberbullies harass others just for the sake of bullying or making fun of somebody else.
Signs Your Kid may be a Victim of Cyberbullying
There are many signs that may indicate your child is a victim of cyberbullying. In most cases however, it is always best to have a chat with them and see how they feel about their online or digital activities. These can help in confirming the suspicion that your kid is being cyberbullied. Some of the signs of cyberbullying can include emotional distress that often occurs right after an internet or online activity, changes in behavior, avoiding school, increased fear and anxiety, and changes in scholastic activities. Your child may also show sudden outbursts of anger or may withdraw entirely from family gatherings or even social events. Eating problems as well as changes in sleeping habits may also highlight the possibility of cyberbullying.
What You Can Do to Prevent Cyberbullying
It makes no sense to prevent your child from using technology. However, as parents, it is important to know what their children are doing online. One way to do this is by getting involved in the online activities of children and provide a good example of how healthy relationships can be established online without hurting the feelings of others. Setting boundaries can also work especially for school-age children. Teaching them what they can and cannot do online and creating an agreement with them reinforces the value of responsibility and accountability. Your guidance and support is needed at this stage.
The key to preventing and managing cyberbullying is in strengthening your child’s resilience to peer pressure. Teaching them respect for all people will also go a long way towards ensuring your child does not fall victim to cyberbullying nor become a cyberbully himself.