How do I recognize the signs of cyberbullying?
Bullying in a big problem in America and with the increased use of social media and other internet communications, cyberbullying has become a huge problem as well. According to the Canters of Disease Control and Prevention, 15% of all high school children were cyberbullied at least one time in 2015 and that number continues to rise.
Do you worry about your child being cyberbullied? Significantly more females get cyberbullied than males, but no one is completely immune to this problem.
With these alarming statistics, how do you know if your child is a victim of cyberbullying? While they may not be open to telling you about their problems online, there are other signs you can look out for to determine whether or not this is an issue.
What is Cyberbullying?
Dr. Michele Borba, a social and emotional development professional who also specializes in bullying prevention, defines cyberbullying as an electronic form of communication that is used to hurt, embarrass, threaten, blackmail or somehow target another minor.
Cyberbullying can occur on any type of electronic technology, including cell phones, tablets, and computers, as well as other communication tools such as social media sites, online chats, text messages, and websites.
This type of bullying is very difficult for the victim to escape. It can happen at any time of the day and on any day of the week. It can reach children even when he or she is by them self.
This type of bullying can be done anonymously and quickly distributed to a large number of people. It can even be impossible to determine the source of the bullying. It is impossible to completely delete any harassing or inappropriate messages, texts, or pictures that have been sent electronically.
Cyberbullying is so prevalent and easy to do because it is easy to be cruel anonymously or when hiding behind a computer screen. When you are not face-to-face with someone, it is easier to lash out at them.
So how does cyberbullying play out exactly? Here are the top ten forms of cyberbullying.
Signs of Cyberbullying
According to the National Crime Prevention Council, children can present signs that they are being bullied online in several different ways. Some may present emotional signs, others academic signs, and some may show behavioral signs. Some may even show all three.
Children who are bullied have a higher risk of developing mental health problems during their lifetime including severe depression, anger, and anxiety. Children at the highest risk of developing mental health problems are those who are bullied as well as those who bully others. Children who are bullied also end up having:
- fewer friendships throughout their lifetime
- suspicion of others
- problems adjusting to new situations
Here is an overview video of signs that your child is being cyberbullied, which we will go into more detail about.
So, do you have to keep a diary of your child’s every move to determine if they are being bullied online? No, but it is important to take a mental note of anything that occurs outside of their normal activity. If you do notice a few of these things happening, it is best to press for more information.
According to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, any unusual behavior that is presented by your child may be a red flag. Some of these include:
- Becoming shy and withdrawn
- Starts to show signs of being depressed
- Is often moody or easily aggravated
- Has high anxiety all of a sudden
- Seems to be overly stressed out
- Begins to be aggressive themself
There may be some academic signs that a child displays if they are being cyberbullied. This can be because they are too distracted with the bullying to focus on their school work or perhaps the bully is in one of their classes at school, keeping them anxious throughout the day.
Cyberbullying can also be accompanied by bullying at school or other forms of bullying that can keep your child from feeling safe. Some academic signs include:
- Not wanting to attend school
- Getting into trouble at school
- Loses interest or enthusiasm for academics
- Starts to get bad grades
- Fakes illness to stay home
- Skips school
The main red flag of cyberbullying is a withdrawal from technology. If your child used to be very active with technology or get online every night to talk to friends and you notice a sudden change in their computer or phone usage, it is a huge red flag. Some other social and behavioral signs include:
- Stops doing activities they once enjoyed
- Changes in diet or sleeping habits
- Unwilling to share information about their online activity
- Quickly shuts off or walks away from the computer if someone enters the room
- Threatens suicide
- Unexplained headaches or stomachaches
- Has a sudden change of friends
If you notice any of these signs happening with your child, it is important to address them directly and ask about what is going on. Having a cyberbully is harmful, stressful, and miserable, so it is important to not ignore the problem hoping it will go away on its own. No matter what the cyberbullying entails, it is important to be there for your child during this time and provide them with the support they need.
Please comment if you have a question or a concern about cyberbullying. Also, make sure to look out for these signs and don’t assume that cyberbullying cannot happen to your child.