Cyberbullying & Teen Harm: The Dangers & How To Protect Your Child

Did you know that more than 80 percent of teenagers use a mobile phone on a regular basis, which makes it the most common medium for cyberbullying? Unfortunately, around 43 percent of children have been bullied online and 1 in 4 children have been bullied more than once.

Cyberbullying happens over digital devices such as computers, tablets, and mobile phones. Most commonly, it takes place on social media, mobile apps, and texting.

Nowadays, children use these devices on a regular basis, starting from a very young age. Though these devices (and the internet) certainly have their merits, they also have serious downsides, including the possibility for cyberbullying.

Many parents are familiar with this phenomenon to a certain extent, but not all of those who allow their children to use digital devices know how to keep them safe. And, there are those who are often unfamiliar with the disastrous effects that cyberbullying can have on young people.

So, the question which arises is do parents know how to protect their kids from this dangerous phenomenon? Do modern-day parents have the capacity to recognize if their child is being bullied online? Is banning our children’s usage of technology the only way to keep them safe or are there skills we can learn and make sure they have a safe online presence?

Not being able to understand the impact of cyberbullying and your child’s vulnerability puts them in harm’s way. Therefore, it is essential to teach our children to recognize bad behavior online, how to use the internet cautiously, and show them that we are someone they can turn to in times of need, not someone they should fear because they might get into trouble.

This article will help you learn about the dangers associated with cyberbullying and provide 6 valuable tips to protect your children the best you can.

The Dangers of Cyberbullying

One thing is for sure- cyberbullying is widespread; it is not an unimportant issue that only some people experience. But, even though a lot of children today know about it and how it happens, they seem to be unaware or worried about the results from these types of actions, according to PureSight Technologies Ltd, a company that strives to protect children online.

Furthermore, statistics provided by the Cyberbullying Research Center point out that only 51 percent of young individuals realize that what they share online can come back to hurt them!

Unfortunately, cyberbullying can be even more damaging to young people than face-to-face bullying because it can happen at any time or anywhere. Moreover, the humiliating messages, photos or videos can spread through a large audience and very fast, making the bullying even crueler and more embarrassing for the child.

The offebding material may also be kept and continuously spread out, making the child feel helpless. And, because of the anonymity that the online world enables, many children have no clue about who the bully is, which adds to the level of fear, frustration, and insecurity.

Children who are cyberbullied will show specific changes in their behavior. Some of the major ones include:

  • Reduction in self-esteem
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Refusal to attend social situations or school by making all kinds of excuses
  • Hiding devices like mobile phones or laptops from family members
  • Loss of weight and changes in appearance
  • Self-harming behavior
  • Dressing to hide self-harming marks; for example, long sleeves in hot weather
  • Sadness and anxiety
  • Depression or other mental health issues
  • Shame and anger
  • Fear
  • Incapacity to trust in others
  • Hurt feelings and frustration
  • Thoughts about suicide or suicide attempts

 

6 Ways to Protect Your Children from Cyberbullying

 

  1. Build a relationship that works on trust

One of the first steps towards the safe usage of technology is to establish a trusting relationship with your child. Explain to them the reasons for your set times and talk about the rules for internet usage and safety in your home. And, always remember to ask them for their contribution creating rules. In this way, they will be more willing to follow them.

 

Talk to your child on a regular basis not just about what is going on in their real life, but ask about their digital life too.

 

  1. Inform yourself about social media

As a conscious parent, you need to learn how social media works and what information is being required from the user to share. Ask from your child to show you all of their social media accounts and if necessary, have their passwords that you may use in case you suspect something wrong is happening.

 

Talk to your teen on the importance of not sharing personal information, their number or location online and the negative effects of such behavior on their well-being. Show them how to set their accounts to private.

 

  1. Monitor their internet usage

If you have a family laptop or a laptop for the child, avoid putting it in their room. Emphasize that these devices need to be used in the common room. In this way, you will be more aware of how they are spending their time online.

 

When it comes to their mobile phones, have a set time of usage and know which apps they are using and advise them which ones to avoid.