A Parental Guide to Helping Your Kid Overcome Cyberbullying

Digital aggressors exist on the internet and can find your kid or teen and target him or her incessantly. Not familiar with this kind of threat? It’s called cyberbullying, a form of bullying that takes place on social media, forums, and the internet where the victim is sent a constant stream of intimidating messages by the cyberbully.

The psychological effects of cyberbullying and in-person bullying are about the same, with your child petrified to access his or her smartphone or computer, go to school, and engage in normal activities for fear the cyberbully will “find” him or her somehow.

Facts About Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is more common than you think. A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 15% of high school students had been digitally bullied in the 12 months before the survey was taken. Classroom peers are often the aggressors. The results for the victims? Poor grades, paranoia, and excessive anxiety that may last for years.

This is where good parental guidance can save the day. A recent study found that teaching teens and kids about cyberbullying and safe online behaviors can considerably reign in the emotional and psychological damage inflicted by cyberbullying. This requires that you, the parent, must learn all you can about the threat as well as the safety measures your child can take to stave off such intimidation when it arises.

Signs of Cyberbullying

  Here are a few of the signs that children will exhibit if they’re being cyberbullied:

  • Appearing visibly disturbed when using their smartphone or surfing the internet

  • Keeping their digital life hidden from their parents

  • Acting up and getting bad grades in school

  • Getting fidgety and nervous when a new text or email pops up on their smartphone

Identifying Microaggressions

Cyberbullying is rarely overt and direct. It is frequently characterized by microaggressions in the form of microassaults, microinsults, and microinvalidations:

  • A microassault is an indirect threat where the cyberbully slanders the ethnicity or gender of your kid via indirect images or language.  

  • A cyberbully microinsults when he or she expresses negative or insensitive statements about your kid’s race or culture indirectly.

  • Your child is being micro-invalidated when the cyberbully minimizes or ignores your kid’s issues or challenges due to his or her gender or race.

Microaggressions are indirect and subtle because the cyberbullies can’t openly be racist or sexist, so they hide behind euphemistic expressions such as “non-whites” or “you people” to mask their own aggressions. Their goal is to constantly “get away” with their disparaging comments.

Safety Measures

Here is what you can do to help your kid stay safe from such digital attacks:

  • Implement high-privacy settings on your kid’s computers and gadgets, as well as social media networks.

  • Instruct your children to not shoot off a hasty reply to a digital attack when they are feeling depressed or upset. Your kid is more likely to disclose sensitive information that might tip off bullies as to who your kid is and where he or she lives.  

  • Teach your children to only divulge their personal information, like addresses or phone numbers, to people they trust, and to keep their passwords secure.

Face the Problem Together

As a parent, educate yourself on how to detect cyberbullying and what you can do to counter it as much as possible. By taking a proactive, vigilant stance, you can help your child nip the problem in the bud when it first arises, by working together as part of the family unit. Though children may exhibit symptoms of stress and anxiety for a while, supporting them throughout the ugly experience will help toughen them up to any kind of similar experience in the future.  

 

Written by:  Melissa Howard

Photo via Pixabay