It is quite hard to believe, but yes, cyberbullying is a reality and it exists all around us!
What makes cyberbullying unique is that all of it happens through technology by making use of cellphones and the internet. Make no mistake, being cyberbullied can cause just as much damage as being physically bullied, if not more … How does one spot the warning signs of cyberbullying?
- Be aware of your child’s behaviour, if your child/teenager is reacting strangely (being sad, angry or distressed) after using the internet or a cellphone, it may be a sign that the child is being cyberbullied.
- Take note of your child’s reaction when receiving an sms, e-mail or when visiting a social media website.
- Withdrawal from family and friends is another concerning sign to watch out for.
- If your child is showing signs of depression, being cyberbullied may be the cause thereof. Is there a solution?
- Teach your children from a young age to block all communications with anyone online who is intimidating them in any way.
- Never post or share any personal information or passwords on a social media website.
- Build a relationship with your children so that they will feel comfortable to talk to you about their online “life”.
- Children need to know that it is dangerous to post/share inappropriate information online and not to send messages when they are angry or upset.
Regardless of how much your child/children resent it, you will only be able to protect him/her by monitoring what they do online. Keep the computer in a busy area of your house, which makes it easier for you to keep an eye on what they are doing. It is a good idea to set up filters on your child’s computer.
Tracking software can block inappropriate web content and help you check up on online activities. A parent needs to insist on knowing a child’s online passwords. Children can sometimes be very cruel to one another, without realising the damage they cause by saying hurtful things to their friends in a moment of anger or frustration.
Prevention is always better than cure. Rather educate your children about matters like these. Not only to prevent them from falling victim to being cyberbullied, but also to avoid them from becoming a cyberbully themselves!