Bullying isn’t a new concept, but technology has allowed kids to connect with each other in a lot of different ways. Cyberbullying has received a lot of attention over the last few years because it is a big problem among kids of all ages. It’s important for you to monitor your child’s online activity to be aware of any problems and help them cope with cyberbullying.
Have Open Communication
Kids tend to be secretive about their lives, and this is especially true when it comes to bullying. If they’re having a problem, they may think you’re going to take away their phone or computer or that you’re going to blame them for the problem.
Let them know they can come to talk to you about anything at any time. If they do come to you with a problem, be sure to listen calmly and let them finish speaking before you react. Try to take the Goldilocks approach and make sure not to overreact by threatening to contact the bully’s parents or take away their technology, but also don’t underreact by telling them to ignore the problem. Validate their feelings and come up with a solution they are comfortable with. This will encourage them to keep coming to you in the future.
Know the Signs
Even if you have the most open and honest relationship with your kids, they still may hide things from you or think they can handle it on their own. It’s important that you know the signs of cyberbullying, so you can help them address the problem. According to HelpGuide.org, some of the signs include:
- They are sad, anxious, angry or distressed after computer or phone use
- They avoid talking about what they’re doing online
- They withdraw from family, friends and hobbies
- They have a drastic mood or attitude change
- They refuse to go to certain activities or groups
If your child is showing any of these symptoms, be sure to have a conversation about what’s going on and let them know you’re there to help.
Learn How to Help
If you know that your child is having issues with cyberbullying, you need to know what steps to take. StopBullying.gov has tips on how to help if your child is being bullied or is the bully.
If your child is being cyberbullied, assure them that it’s not their fault. Open the lines of communication, but also understand if they are more comfortable talking to a counselor or psychologist instead. If they do open up to you, come up with a plan on how to deal with the problem if it happens again. Do some role playing to help them think out how they will react. You also should ask them what will make them more comfortable, such as talking to the school, coach or other adults involved about addressing the situation. Try to not have your child’s routine changed, but work on ways you can separate them from the bully, such as asking the school to change the bully’s class schedule or bus seat. You also can show them how to block numbers on their smartphone if the problem is just with one person and how to save evidence of bullying on their phone if it needs to be reported. The Samsung Galaxy 8 plus is one example of a smartphone with the ability to automatically block callers.
If your child is bullying someone else, take the situation equally seriously. Sit your child down and discuss their behavior and why it is wrong. Stay calm and be respectful when talking to your child, but be sure they understand that you are taking it seriously and that there are consequences to their actions. Work with them to understand why they were bullying, and involve them in making amends for the situation. Some positive suggestions include writing an apology letter or doing a good deed for the person they were bullying.