Cyberbullying refers to bullying of the digital nature. It is not very different from the bullying that happens in the school yard.
When someone hurts or scares another person repeatedly, that behavior is called bullying and the person who initiates the behavior is called a bully. Bullying can take many forms, and can happen in person or online, which is called cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is about the impact of the action, not the intent of the sender – in this way, it’s possible to be an unintentional cyberbully. Cyberbullying can look like any and all of these things:
- Sending mean, insulting or threatening text, e-mail, or instant messages
- Posting nasty pictures or messages about others online or on social media
- Using someone else’s username and/or profile picture to spread rumors or lies about someone
- Stealing someone’s password and spreading rumors about someone else making it seem like that person is the Cyberbully
Cyberbullying has the same psychological and social implications that leave the minds of children in worry. What makes cyberbullying a little more intense than physical bullying is that it is not limited to in person interactions. According to a 2015 survey by Cyberbullying Research Center, 34.4% of students between the ages of 11 and 15 have been cyberbullied at some point. This includes but is not limited to children who have been threatened online, had negative rumors spread about them, or had mean and hurtful comments of them online.
When it comes to confronting your kids about cyberbullying, the conversation can be tough and uncomfortable for them. Most parents struggle to help their kids with combating cyberbullying problems. The prospect of trying to fix a digital issue can seem quite daunting as a parent. Without a full understanding of your kids digital presence, you can be left feeling helpless and frustrated. Below are 3 things every parent should know when talking to their kids about cyberbullying.
- Develop a digital relationship with your kids.
Stay in contact with your kids online and offline. This will give you a chance to learn more about their online interests and help them feel more comfortable coming to you if they do need help and support with any digital problems. Adopt an ‘open door’ approach to encourage your child to talk to you comfortably about any issues they may have faced whether of the online nature or not. Even if there is something you are unable to provide a solution for right away, you can support and help in finding a solution. This will also make the conversation about cyberbullying less awkward.
- Talk about cyber safety.
Discussing cyber safety with your kids is very important. Keep your kids digital devices protected with a security system tailored to protect kids from online threats. However, keep in mind that you do not want to step on their boundaries with this!
In addition, encourage your kids to block and ignore people who send hateful messages and preach kindness to others.
- Encourage Empathy.
Empathy is a trait we all want to see in our kids. Empathy is hard to teach to kids, however putting great emphasis on it can be of great help to your kids when they get older as well. When it comes to cyberbullying and digital harassment, help your kids understand empathy by taking a step in another person’s shoes. Ask them, how would they feel if someone sent them hateful comments online? This will help them understand the extent of cyberbullying’s effects from both ends.