by Janice Miller
Being the new kid at school has always been hard, and schoolyard bullies have existed since there were schools. But bullying has evolved over time and the majority of it now exists online. One of the main problems that children face these days is online harassment – also known as cyberbullying. This form of bullying can be extremely potent because the harassment is often anonymous and can be spread to hundreds of people in a matter of minutes. Here are some tips for parents on how to help your child if they’re facing this situation.
If you find out your child is being cyberbullied – either from them or from reading their texts/social media messages – the first thing you should do it react appropriately. Don’t overreact and ban them from the internet, or go on a tirade in front of their friends. Don’t under-react by saying that it’s just what kids do and they must learn to get over it. Both of these approaches will only make -the problem worse. React appropriately by letting them know that you understand their situation, you think it’s serious, it’s not their fault, and you will help them get through it.
Tweak privacy settings
Most social media sites and blogging sites where cyberbullying often occurs have tons of privacy options that you can use to help thwart a cyberbully. Block any users that are bullying your child on their Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr accounts. Report abuse.
Talk to the appropriate authorities
You’re doing your child no favors by keeping their cyberbullying under lock and key. You should contact your child’s school and see if they can intervene. If the cyberbullying is severe and contains threats of violence or extreme invasion of privacy (posting sensitive information about your child, leaking hacked materials) then you should certainly contact the police. Cyberbullying.org notes that parents of cyberbullies may become defensive and confrontational if presented with evidence of their child’s activities, so it pays to be careful in this regard.
Create a healthy home environment for your child
Focus on the elements that you can control – for example creating a healthy, stress-free environment at home. Make sure your home is clean and de-cluttered. Practice healthy habits with your family, like a good diet and a focus on getting enough exercise. Redfin.com notes that natural light in the home plays a key role in overall happiness and wellbeing, so keep your curtains open and spend a lot of time with your kids in the backyard.
Finally, you want to create a home environment where communication is open and honestly is rewarded. The best tool you have to help your child fight against cyberbullying is knowledge, and you can’t know what your child feels if they don’t feel comfortable talking to you about it. Withhold judgment, overreaction, and any punishment for their online activities. Simply listen and offer help.
Teach your child that they must be better than their bully
Your child must know that when they go to school, it’s paramount that they rise to a higher level than their bully. They should know that retaliation is never a good idea, as it often emboldens the bully and make them more aggressive. They should always be kind to everyone and do their best to ignore the bullying.
It’s unfortunate that kids these days have to deal with cyberbullying, but it’s a prevalent problem. Bullies aren’t going away, and neither is the internet – so this problem is likely here to stay. As a parent, it’s your job to keep communication lines open, intervene when necessary, and teach your children how to react to a bully.
Please note: The Norwich Radical and the author are not cyberbullying experts, nor do we presume to be taken as such. The above are suggestions from a contributing parent, and should not be considered the golden standard in the case of cyberbullying.
Featured image via Pixabay
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