Help! I Think My Child Might Be a Cyberbully (Special Article)

Help! I Think My Child Might Be a Cyberbully (Special Article)

Our society grows more and more connected. We have smart phones, computers, tablets, social media sites and other tools constantly creating new connections between people. This is generally a good thing, but there is a negative side to this enhanced communication—cyberbullying. Although bullying in the playground or classroom has been around since we started putting kids in schools, cyberbullying brings a new aspect to bullying. It is more difficult to stop because, in many cases, the bully is anonymous.

Cyberbullying Can Lead to Suicide

Cyberbullying is using the internet, cell phones or other devices to post pictures, text, videos or other information intended to hurt or embarrass another person. According to the National Crime Prevention Association, cyberbullying affects almost half of all American teens. Although many feel cyberbullying is not a big deal, the consequences can be severe. As evidenced by the amount of suicides—particularly of gay teens—in the last few years, cyberbullying can have a devastating effect on the victim and their family. Because of the nature of cyberbullying, it is difficult to tell if your child is involved—either as a victim or an aggressor.

Prevent Your Child From Becoming a Cyberbully

There are some simple ways to prevent your child from becoming a cyberbully. Be a model for them. Don’t use abusive language when referencing workmates, other parents or kids. Make sure the language you use around your child does not lead them to believe it is alright for them to use abusive language. Children look to their parents as guides for how to operate in the world. Make sure, as a guide, you're pleasant, kind and non-aggressive.
Keep an eye on your child’s social networking profile. See if they are getting involved in harassing other children. This could be a precursor to them becoming the primary bully themselves. If you do find evidence they are harassing others, do not let it stand. Talk to them about it. Explain the better, healthier ways to deal with their aggression or anger towards their friends and classmates. Make sure they understand that harassment is not an acceptable type of behavior. There are ways to assure your child's social network site can't be hacked.

Keep Your Child's Social Network From Being Hacked

Cyberbullying is not exclusive to hateful or aggressive comments or messages. Many kids have their social networking site hacked, and the hacker shares embarrassing information or posts things the actual user would not post. There is software to track the sites that have been accessed on your computer and that can help you to protect your child against identity theft. Utilize the tools available to make sure your child has not stolen another kid’s identity.
The best way to stop cyberbullying is to prevent your child from ever becoming one in the first place. Have open conversations about bullying and its effects on others. Show through example the best way to solve problems is not through threats and anger but through calm and reasoned action.

Special Article By 
Jennifer Stone
Guest Editor VOGH


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