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What is Cyberbullying and How to Stop It?

Posted on by Dawna M. Roberts in SafetyFebruary 04, 2021

How to Stop and Prevent Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is a huge problem that keeps gaining notoriety as more and more reports of teen suicide link back to online stalking and abuse by cyberbullies. 

Because we are tied to our phones, social media, email, and online access 24/7, cyberbullying is extraordinarily pervasive. It can make a teen or young adult feel like they cannot escape it. Unlike old-school bullying that only took place at school or in neighborhood groups, cyberbullying is everywhere. 

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is carried out through digital media like cell phones (SMS texts), social media, forums, gaming platforms, and even email. It involves the repeated abuse of one person by another with the intent of embarrassing them, shaming them, or inciting anger and hurt.

Some examples of cyberbullying are:

  • Spreading lies about the person.
  • Posting embarrassing photos, videos, or information about the person.
  • Sending hurtful or threatening messages to someone on social media, forums, SMS text, or email.
  • Catfishing or impersonating someone and posting shameful or embarrassing content or messages on their behalf. 

How to Detect Cyberbullying

Kids can be moody, so it may be challenging to tell right off that your child is suffering from cyberbullying. Psychologists say that this type of trauma may manifest differently in each child. However, you know your child well, so you should monitor them for any sudden personality changes. If they are ordinarily outgoing, do they appear quieter and shy? 

Some of the most common signs of cyberbullying are:
  • Withdrawal from family and friends.
  • Self-doubt or self-deprecation.
  • A sudden burst of anger or temper tantrums.
  • Anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Signs of PTSD. 

It is crucially important that parents monitor their kids for any of these signs and take immediate action to end the cyberbullying and get their child professional help.

Some other ways you can detect cyberbullying is through other changes in behavior. Most kids spend a lot of time online playing games and connecting with friends. If your child suddenly doesn’t want to use any screens or is spending an obsessive amount of time online, both may be indications of cyberbullying. If your teen suddenly stops hanging around their friends or quits school events or groups they initially enjoyed, that too could be a sign of cyberbullying. 

When a teen or young adult suddenly starts spending all their time alone in their room, it is cause for concern. It may be a sign of anxiety, depression, or PTSD, which could be due to cyberbullying. Studies have shown that both victims and cyberbullies hide their online activities and spending an excessive amount of time alone in their room could be a sign. 

What is Cyberbullying

What is the Cause and Effect of Cyberbullying?

There can be many causes for cyberbullying. Sometimes it’s enough just to break up with someone, which sparks a flurry of cyberbullying as revenge. Often friends who become enemies engage in cyberbullying. Teens and young adults who identify with the LGBTQ community or other cultural or racial minorities may be more at risk of these types of abuse. 
Sometimes bullies feel insecure themselves, and it makes them feel better when they bully others. Teen bullying is very common due to peer pressure and the stress of puberty.


The Effects of Cyberbullying

The short and long-term effects of cyberbullying can be devastating. Your child may have difficulty sleeping, eating, they may lose a lot of weight, or even display self-harm behaviors. Some may outwardly talk about or silently consider suicidal ideation. Some other issues related to cyberbullying are the inability to connect with others, attachment disorders, doing poorly in school, self-harm (like cutting or burning themselves), or eating disorders. 
Any of these effects require professional counseling and help to heal. 

How to Stop and Prevent Cyberbullying

The best way parents can prevent cyberbullying from ever starting is by talking to their kids early (as soon as they begin using screens) about the dangers of cyberbullying, what it is, what it looks and sounds like, and instructing them to report any to their parent(s) immediately. If any interaction between your child and another person feels “off,” they should inform you right off so you can evaluate the situation. Make sure they understand that they will not be in trouble that you just want to keep them safe.
While children are young, you can monitor their social media accounts and keep an eye on things. Discuss those items that “raise your eyebrows” and let your kids know why. Don’t forget to monitor gaming devices, chat rooms, and forums as well. 
If your child is the victim of cyberbullying, contact the other person’s parents, the school, and law enforcement. Cyberbullying is a serious crime. You will also want to get help for your child immediately, which may include therapies and other self-help resources. Another tip is to take a break from online activities for a while. 
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