01 Nov Cyberbullying in the Real World
The internet has fundamentally changed how most of the world operates, and it has impacted the lives of so many people, especially our children. As parents, we must be conscious of the hidden dangers that lie within the world of social media.
Cyberbullying has become a major issue in the past couple of years. It is a form of violence that involves using social media to bully or harass others. It is easy for abusers to hide behind their monitor and attack others, especially if their posts are anonymous. Oftentimes cyberbullying is subtle, so it is important to recognize when such harassment is occurring.
Examples of Cyberbullying
- Repeatedly texting someone to the point of harassment
- Posting hurtful comments on social media (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat)
- Impersonating someone online
- Taking a photo or video and sharing it without the other person knowing
- Threatening or intimidating someone in an online forum
Effects of Cyberbullying
Many teens today are constantly on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other forms of social media. It is important to realize that many children care deeply about how “popular” they are on these online outlets. Someone “liking” a post on Facebook or gaining/losing a “follower” on Twitter can seriously impact the mood of many teens for better or worse. Now imagine the impact on such teens if their classmates started spreading rumors about them, or if they were teased about the way they dressed or looked. Such experiences can severely impact the self-confidence of teenagers, and it can lead to a drop in academic performance simply because they can’t concentrate in class and would rather not show their face at school.
Signs of a Child Being Bullied
- Not wanting to go to school or participate in social activities
- Becoming upset after using the computer or cell phone
- Seeming unhappy, more withdrawn, or moodier than usual
- Avoiding questions when you ask what is happening
- Declining academic performance
How to Approach a Child Being Bullied
First, talk to the child. However, remember that he or she may be potentially embarrassed about being bullied and therefore may be reluctant to talk about the situation. Ask open-ended questions such as “How was your day?” and “How are your friends doing?” If the child does open up, remind her that she is not “tattling,” and ensure she knows her own sense of safety takes priority over her abuser getting in trouble. Some next steps include:
- saving all emails, text messages, and online messages
- talking to other parents to determine what may have happened
- notifying and making school staff aware of the situation
- if the child’s physical safety is threatened, calling the police
Any child spending time online is at risk of being bullied. In this digital age, it is important to understand how some children and teens link their sense of self-worth to their online personas, and how cyberbullying can seriously harm their self-image and sense of security.
For more information on the web, visit healthychildren.org or watch this video. If you have questions or would like to discuss any concerns you have regarding cyberbullying, you can schedule an appointment with me, Dr. Kathryn Mandal, by calling 817-617-8600 or scheduling online at continuumtx.com.
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