What Is Cyberbullying?

November 24, 2015
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Cyberbullying. This buzz word has found its way into headlines of mainstream media outlets time and time again in the past decade or so.

We’ve all heard the term used before, but what is it, exactly? Cyberbullying happens when a teen, preteen or child is repeatedly threatened, harassed or humiliated online by another minor. This can be in the through social media, websites, comments, email, smartphone apps, texts and more.

In a perfect world, parents would be one of the most trusted places kids’ can go when they’re in trouble. But in reality, kids aren’t always keen on involving mom and dad when cyberbullying is involved. According to Kids.gov, one of the first measures parents can take in order to prevent cyberbullying is to simply monitor and be aware of kids’ online activity. Establishing rules about online/smartphone activity is also a good place to start. Here are some other crucial actions to take with your children.

  • Teach your children to never post or share videos/photos that would cause issues if other people saw them.
  • Stress the importance of kids coming to mom or dad if they are ever a victim of cyberbullying; you’re there to help them.
  • Make it a point to follow your children on social media websites (or have another trusted adult do so) so you can be informed about their online activity.
  • Install monitoring software on kids’ computers, smartphones and other devices. Let them know this precaution allows you to check their activity because it’s a parent’s responsibility to do so when you see fit.

Even with these preventative measures in place, your kids aren’t immune from the dangers of cyberbullying. There are a few red flags to keep an eye out for, if parents suspect online or in-person bullying, including: Anxiety and depression, sudden changes in eating and sleeping, loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed, feelings of loneliness or sadness, health complaints and a drop in school participation or performance.

If you are alerted to a cyberbullying situation, there are some immediate steps to take in order to protect your child. Here are these important steps to take, according to Stopbullying.gov:

  1. Do not respond to the cyberbully, and do not forward the offending messages.
  2. Gather evidence. Save and print emails, text messages and screen shots of the cyberbullying and make sure to document times, dates and descriptions of the instances, too.
  3. Block the individual who is cyberbullying.
  4. Report the abuse to online service providers, who can take measures to remove the cyberbully from the social media site/website/etc. Ask about how you can change settings so that only people you want to contact you actually can.
  5. If there is any physical threat or breaking of a law, contact your local law enforcement agency immediately. In addition to threats of violence, this could include hate crimes or stalking, child pornography, sending sexually explicit photos and/or messages or posting a video or photo of a person somewhere where she/he would expect to have privacy. According to Stopcyberbullying.org, police officers and volunteers at WiredSafety.org can also help with cyberbullying situations free of charge.
  6. Let the school know what’s happening, so they can be on the lookout for at-school bullying.

For more even more information about cyberbullying and what parents can do to prevent it, visit Stopbullying.gov.

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