Cyberbullying affects one in three children, and is one of the biggest problems facing young people in today’s tech-focused world. Here’s how to respond if your child says they’re being bullied online – or they’ve bullied someone else.
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is when a person uses technology to abuse, harass or humiliate someone over the internet. It often involves someone sending abusive messages over social media or via an online game. It could also involve sharing personal information or images that humiliate someone or cause distress.
Why does it matter that it happens ‘online’?
Online bullying can be particularly difficult for a child to deal with because it’s very hard to switch off and escape the harassment. With 24-hour connectivity on smartphones and other portable tech, the bullying essentially follows them home. The fact it happens online also makes it easier for bullies to remain anonymous.
Why is anonymity important?
Some platforms allow users to send anonymous messages. This makes it easier for bullies to hide and avoid being identified. But bullies usually aren’t as anonymous as they think they are, and the authorities can often identify the perpetrators using the likes of IP addresses.
What should I do if my child says they’ve been bullied?
First and foremost, make sure your child knows that telling you about it is 100% the right thing to do, and reassure them you can help deal with the problem. Ask them to show you any comments and messages that could be used as evidence of bullying. This can help when trying to block and report the bully, or if talking to your child’s school about it. Finally, it’s important to stay calm and not to get angry, even if the bullying occurred on an app or site that they shouldn’t have visited.
Five tips to help your child respond to cyberbullying:
Block or report the person who is harassing them to the site or platform they are on.
Ask them to think before giving out personal information.
Keep evidence of any cyberbullying, such as screen grabs of the messages.
Don’t respond to messages with aggression or seeking revenge.
Speak to someone about how they’re feeling as soon as possible.
Four steps to take if your child has cyberbullied someone:
It can be upsetting to hear that your child may have been involved in the bullying of another child – but it’s important to stay calm and establish all the facts.
Find out both sides of the story to understand exactly what’s gone on.
Discuss with your child why they acted this way.
Help them to understand how their actions would make somebody else feel.
Remember it might be an isolated incident and it doesn’t necessarily make them a bad person.
If you want to talk to your child about bullying, visit Stop Speak Support site for videos and advice. Or, if you need further help dealing with a bullying issue, go to the Diana Award’s support centre.
This article is by Parent Zone, the experts in digital life.