In the past, bullying was usually limited to the playground or school hallways. While still hurtful, most kids were able to escape their bully as soon as the school day came to an end. Today, escaping from school bullies isn’t quite as simple.
You’ve likely heard of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is when kids use the internet to harass or humiliate a person online. Unlike schoolyard bullying, cyberbullying is usually ongoing, and the bully has easy access to their victim virtually every hour of the day.
With so many aspects of a kid’s social life and even schooling taking place online today, it can be especially tricky for parents to know when their child is facing online abuse. Cyberbullying puts kids at risk of anxiety and depression and can make it difficult for a child to concentrate in school. As a parent, it’s crucial to recognize the warning signs of cyberbullying so that you can help your child put a stop to it.
Recognizing the signs of cyberbullying
While you’d hope your child would come to you if someone targeted them online, the unfortunate reality is that many kids aren’t forthcoming with their parents when they’re the victim of cyberbullying. They may not realize they are victims of abuse or fear tattling will only make the situation worse. They may also fear that telling you will result in you taking away their internet privileges.
For these reasons, it’s essential that parents recognize the potential signs of cyberbullying and when their child may need help. If any of the following sound familiar, your child may be the target of online abuse:
- They suddenly have no interest in the computer, even if they loved using it previously.
- They don’t want to use a computer or tablet with you around.
- They turn off the monitor or quickly switch the screen whenever you’re near.
- They appear nervous when they get a new text message or social media notification.
- They make indirect comments that allude to bullying, such as “I have no friends” or “there’s a lot of drama at school.”
- They don’t want to go to school or appear uneasy about going.
- They become withdrawn.
How to help
If you or your child confirms they are being bullied, you can take steps to stop it. You may consider talking to the parents of the bully or reaching out to your child’s school administration. If the cyberbullying continues, you may need to contact law enforcement or consult with an attorney to protect your child from further online abuse.