As technology continues to progress, new and evolving online services and social media platforms are changing the digital landscape at a rapid pace. This is especially true for children, who are the digital pioneers on many platforms. While some of these many forms provide great educational and entertainment opportunities, they also present new mediums for cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can occur through social media, messaging apps, text messages, or even in video games. As the new school year approaches, it is important for parents to take some time to better understand cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is any form of bullying or harassment that occurs using electronic devices. Cyberbullies can be a child’s friend or classmate or an unknown anonymous voice on the web. The motivations and tactics of a cyberbully can vary, but they usually involve sharing private information, lies to embarrass the victim, or other threats to self-image. Like any form of bullying, parents need to monitor their children for signs of cyberbullying and be aware of where they spend time while online.
Warning signs of cyberbullying
- Sudden increase or decrease in use of phone or other devices. Additionally, there may be a sudden desire to hide their devices or deflect conversation related to them.
- Social media accounts that are unexpectedly deactivated or deleted.
- Losing interest in previously enjoyed activities or avoiding social interaction with friends or family.
How to reduce the threat posed by cyberbullying
- Establish rules with your children on digital behavior and how they may use their devices. It is up to you as a parent to determine which digital behaviors are appropriate for your children based on factors such as age, maturity level, interests, etc.
- Talk to your kids. Having regular thoughtful conversations with your children will help highlight when there might be a problem.
- Report cyberbullying to social media platforms, your child’s school, or to local law enforcement.
To protect their children from cyberbullying, parents need to review all apps, messaging services, social media platforms, and games to determine if they are appropriate or if any restrictions are necessary.
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