Cyberbullying includes receiving threatening emails, offensive images and mean messages through different platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Children can be victims of more than one online bully, have their embarrassing images shared with many people and called unpleasant names. All these actions can leave children feeling extremely depressed and isolated.
Why doesn’t your child talk to you about it?
Parents will ask themselves this question and the first reason could be that a child may not understand what online bullying means. Cyberbullying doesn’t equate with physical marks (bruises, scratches) or getting something taken so teachers and parents find it more difficult to detect. This makes the culprit more confident and the bullying carries on. On the other hand, children are afraid to report the bullying as they believe it will get worse and they don’t want to be banned from social media.
Children who tend to get into these situations are often academically inclined or have something unique about their personality and could be loners. They also love social media as a way of communication and therefore, become targets.
Signs of cyberbullying
- They seem stressed after using a device and withdraw from friends and family
- They hide what they’re doing when you walk, refuse to add you on Facebook / Instagram, and won’t let you see what they’re doing online
- They look nervous and guilty when receiving messages and notifications
- Avoidance becomes a form of defence, e.g. one-word answers like ‘fine’ or good’ when parents ask how school is going. Or they may make vague comments like, “I’m tired of school” or “There’s so much drama in class”.
- Grades drop and they may even try and skip class
- They may start losing or gaining weight, have trouble sleeping and eating
Cyberbullying is a real problem and can lead to severe consequences. Children and teenagers often take the bullying comments seriously and struggle to cope with the humiliation and hurt. This causes emotional and mental problems that have long-term effects. At its worst, this type of bullying can drive children to self-harm, withdraw from the real world, become aggressive / sad / worried and in extreme cases, even commit suicide. Parents must be aware and take action as soon as they suspect or realise what is going on. Calmly discuss the situation with the child, talk to other parents and school staff, and if necessary, involve the authorities.
This article has been republished with permission from Hello Doktor.