- Cyberbullying can affects kids on any device, on social media sites, through apps, text messages, and even in games.
- Online bullies feel empowered by the anonymity or emboldened without the risk of in-person confrontation.
- 43% of kids report having suffered from cyberbullying at least once.
- The most common warning signs that a child is being bullied are poor school performance, feeling worthless, and being overly critical of themselves.
- To help a victim of cyberbullying, adults must be supportive, open, and willing to listen.
- Get in touch with us here at Aurora Santa Rosa Hospital to get more information on how you can help a child who is suffering from the effects of cyberbullying.
What is Cyberbullying and How Can We Stop It?
In a day in age where everyone seems to be connected to the internet 24/7, communication and the sharing of information has become a whole lot easier and faster. While this has opened all kinds of doors in a very positive way, it has also opened the door to some rather negative effects. Cyberbullying isn't something you would have necessarily heard about five years ago, and certainly not 10 years ago. For parents it's not something you had to contend with while you were growing up, and it may seem quite foreign in concept.
According to DoSomething.org, cyberbullying has reached new heights with almost 43% of kids having suffered some form of it at least more than once. Not only that but 70% of students witness cyberbullying on a regular basis. They believe it's become so rampant since it's so easy to get away with it.
As a parent, you clearly want what is best for your child and you want to protect them always. So, what happens if you suspect your child may be the victim of cyberbullying? What should you say to them? Should you discuss the matter? What exactly is cyberbullying even? What help can you offer your child. Let's delve right in on the topic that is affecting so many of our children across this nation.
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that takes place online using digital devices. This could be something such as a tablet, computer, or cell phone. It can happen in public forums, on social media sites, through apps, text messages, and even in games. When someone shares a post, message, or photo that is mean, false, hurtful, harmful, or negative, this is a form of cyberbullying. Even if the information is true, if it is harmful or hurtful to share, it is still considered bullying.
There are some points where the cyberbullying goes so far that it is considered criminal behavior, at which point the police will need to be involved.
Anyone can be a victim of cyberbullying and it can happen to the same person many times over. What's so upsetting is that once information is shared on public platforms and spaces, it is then permanent and exists forever.
What are the Long-Term Effects of Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is something that people are starting to take much more seriously as of late as experts uncover just how much of an impact it has on the victim. There are some very real and potentially long-term psychological effects that can result thanks to cyberbullying. This can include severe forms of anxiety and depression which can last not just in childhood, but right into adulthood. Low self-esteem is another long-term effect that is quite common in victims.
Unless your child comes to speak to you about the fact they are being cyberbullied, it can be hard for parents to know. With that said, there are some signs you can watch for that at the very least could signal it's time to have a talk with your child.
Common signs your child may be suffering from short-term or long-term effects of cyberbullying include:
- You child is constantly in a bad mood or sad
- They don't have much energy and seem tired all the time
- They sleep all the time or they don't sleep enough
- They don't show interest in things they used to like
- They feel worthless or hopeless
- They are very critical of themselves
- Their performance at school starts to decline
- They suffer from headaches
Obviously, these signs could point to other issues, but it is worth paying attention so you can have that conversation with them.
How to Deal with Cyberbullying
If you suspect your child may be suffering from cyberbullying, it's a good idea to speak to them directly. Let them know it is safe to talk to you and confide in you. Stress that you are there to help them, and that if they are a victim this isn't something they are to blame for. It's up to you to reassure your child that they are loved and supported, and that this bullying behavior isn't acceptable or tolerable.
It would also be wise to speak to your child's school to alert them of what is going on. There is a chance that it could also be happening there. At the very least, it will make the school aware of what your child is going through and they may be able to offer him/her resources and information on what steps they can take.
Depending on how long the cyberbullying has been going on, and how severe it is, you may also need to take things further. It may be necessary to contact the police, and it's usually a good idea to schedule an appointment with a therapist who can help your child work through their emotions in a healthy manner. This can help to limit and even eliminate the amount of long-term effects.
What is the Cause of Cyberbullying?
One of the most common questions victims and parents of victims have is what causes the cyberbullying in the first place. It's hard to imagine doing anything that bad which would warrant such horrible treatment online.
There is no simple and complete answer to what causes it, but there are some common reasons that tend to be given. It could be that the bully feels more powerful when hurting others, perhaps it's a way that will make them feel popular, maybe they do it to fit in with others, then again perhaps it's a way of deflecting their own self-esteem issues.
Because cyberbullying happens online, it tends to embolden people. Dealing with someone online is a lot less scary than dealing with them face-to-face. There is also the notion that they won't get caught since they can remain anonymous online.
Don't Hesitate – Act Today
If you suspect your child is a victim of cyberbullying, it's important you step in immediately and speak to them about what's going on. You can also get in touch with us here at Aurora Santa Rosa Hospital to get more information on how you can help a child who is suffering from the horrible and lasting effects of cyberbullying.