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Put a Stop to Cyberbullying in Your Family

Photo by Julia M Cameron: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-woman-tutoring-young-boy-4145354/

Unfortunately, bullying and harassment are something human society has had to deal with since time immemorial. Whether it be for pure violence’s sake, jealousy, or other dysfunctional reasons, kids have bullied other kids forever. Wherever there is a dominant display of brutal or violent force that is not under control, whether that be at a kindergarten or high school, or even at an adult level, there is bullying and harassment taking place. This must be stopped, and several institutions fight this sort of thing.

Today, cyberbullying and harassment have taken on a new and much more widespread form. These phenomena hit young people the hardest in the internet realm. This is because of how accessible the internet is to everyone these days, good or bad. With the advent of the internet and all of the good that it brings in connecting us and allowing us to congregate, play together, work together and share data, there is a dark side to deal with. One element of this dark side is that it puts high levels of stress on families today with younger kids and children. This is what is known as cyberbullying. Today, bullies exist in the digital realm. They are everywhere, and often bully and harass others for no apparent reason. For this reason, it is important to understand how, as a parent, you can stop and prevent cyberbullying from affecting your loved ones.

What Is Cyberbullying?

There are several forms of cyberbullying and quite a lot of statistics about it. A PEW research study group noted that 59% of US teens said they were subject to cyberbullying or harassment online at some point in their lives. Internationally speaking, kids all over the world between the ages of 13-24 have reported such incidents according to a Unicef poll. As of today, there is of course a much more widespread threat with so many platforms online where kids and young people congregate, play, and share information about themselves. Let’s remember that, in the past, this amount of free communication between people all over the world was impossible. As a kid before, say, in the 2010s (when the internet and social media took hold and started reaching billions) you would only be exposed to other kids in your school and your neighborhood. Today, strangers can bully kids from across the world.

Cyberbullying is, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center, a “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.” Cyberbullying is a serious issue that can affect the mental health of young people, and in some instances can lead to real-world confrontations and harm.

There are several types of cyberbullying as categorized by the center including purposeful, repeated, harmful, and ‘occurring on a device’ cyberbullying.

Now, let’s look at where cyberbullying can be experienced. Most often, this will happen via social media sites at number one by far, then text messages, online messaging apps, forums, chat rooms, email, online gaming, and even video live streams.

Victims are usually stalked or ‘trolled’, as it happens. What is more, cyberbullies use new inventive and creative ways to cyberbully others online.

Another problem is that online cyberbullying is a constant issue because kids are online almost all day these days. In one sense, real-world bullying can only occur in the physical realm at school time, for instance.

Perhaps the greatest driver for online cyberbullying is the fact that the internet provides bullies anonymity. All of us can hide behind anonymous user profiles, for instance, and bully others consistently.

How to Stop Cyberbullying?

First of all, let’s try to understand when your child is being cyberbullied. You will notice the following changes in your teens or child’s behavior;

  • Changes in appetite or online behavior
  • Changes in sleep patterns and mood swings
  • Hiding information from you
  • Reluctance to go to school and/or spending less time with friends/family
  • A decline in academic performance
  • Feeling physically ill

Now, what you can do as a parent or guardian to address cyberbullying is first of all establish communication with your young family member to understand what exactly is taking place if the school or police haven’t been informed already. Secondly, it is critical to record evidence of the cyberbullying in question. A good way to approach cyberbullies is usually to ignore and block them over social media or the medium through which they are causing a disturbance. You also need to think about setting up the right privacy settings and parental controls on the software or devices that your young person uses. This includes; Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, WhatsApp, Roblox, Twitch, Discord, Metaverse – whatever it may be that they use.

Statistics show that over half of cyberbullying events stopped when an older peer intervened. Therefore, you can also take the following steps;

Report online cyberbullying and harassment to;

  • Your child’s school
  • Other parents
  • Social media app
  • The police
  • Your neighborhood organization

Things can also be in reverse order. Your child may also be the one bullying others. In this case, you must, just like above, stay calm, investigate the situation and stop the behavior immediately. All parents can reach out to established institutions such as the Cyberbullying Research Center, StopBullying.gov, and several others, depending on where they live and if they are covered by those institutions.

You should also know that parental control software is out there. After all, if you filter out bullies across social media, you should reduce your kids’ or teens’ problems by a large amount since the majority of cyberbullying occurs across where most people are and that is social media. You could also benefit from installing keylogger software on your young ones’ devices. This software can log what is being typed on these devices and relay that back to you anonymously. This way, there is no longer anything to hide and you will know what is going on.