The online environment is often a place parents do not frequent when monitoring their child’s behavior. However, it is imperative parents pay close attention to their child’s online activity, especially when monitoring for cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying occurs through text messages, on internet sites, and through any computer-based communication. Indirect forms of cyberbullying include: spreading false rumors, gossip, superimposing pictures of someone, verbal taunts, or attacks to name a few. Cyberbullying can lead to serious and legal consequences for the bully.
Parents want to do their best to protect their children, and it is important to know the best way to help when cyberbullying occurs.
- Educate yourself as to what cyberbullying is. Often screen names are used to protect the bully’s identity. They use this platform to stalk, harass, or threaten others.
- Report and block: this sends a message that such behavior will not be tolerated or acknowledged. All social media sites have a blocking feature; make sure you safeguard all sites your child visits.
- Keep a log of evidence: take screenshots with dates and times. Do not erase evidence.
- Make home a safe place. Victims can feel lonely, scared, and helpless. Give your child the opportunity to talk to you about what’s going on. Reduce stress, limit judgments, and encourage rest and nutrition. Focus on fun physical activities.
- Boost your child’s self-esteem: being the victim of bullying weighs heavily on the mind of a child. Find positive avenues for self-expression.
- Do not retaliate. It only makes the situation worse. Seek help from other neutral parties.
- Talk to your child about the kind of online activities he or she is involved in. Make sure your child knows your expectations for proper online behavior.
- Be upfront with your child about reviewing their social media accounts. Safety trumps privacy!
- Consider installing parental control filtering software or tracking programs, but do not rely solely on these tactics.
- Notify your school of cyberbullying. Even if these instances occur off campus, the students must maintain respectful relationships with each other. Administrators can help address any underlying tensions between both parties.
October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month – be aware of cyberbullying and stay safe! Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions at (714) 999-5055, Ext. 1456.
Jill Thomas, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Fairmont Private Schools Counselor