Cyberbullying: What can you do as a Parent?
Parenting is a very challenging task, especially these days. It is essential to bring up children by making them aware of everything happening around us. Understanding their behaviour and finding out if they are uncomfortable is also required.
All children use gadgets and social media these days. This is something that is not relevant to the previous generations. It is essential to understand that while we may not have experienced social media bullying it could potentially happen with our children.
Cyberbullying and social media bullying is a threat to children.
Moreover, it poses a bigger threat to teenagers and adolescents. They might not tell the parents and keep it within themselves. Sometimes, they prefer to tell their friends over you. They start thinking that telling you will put you in trouble too. This can drift their focus, give them anxiety, and most of all, it could widen a comfortable space to a deep dark ditch between them and you. Here is what you can do as a parent : this article will help you and your kid deal with cyberbullying.
What exactly is cyberbullying?
It is important to understand what is cyberbullying. Bullying is common in school when a child gangs upon another. This is either intentional or sometimes even for revenge. In the case of cyberbullying, it is anonymous and happens on digital platforms. Any target is chosen and is bullied through social media which hurts the children, and this in turn impacts them mentally, emotionally, and physically. This can happen to anyone- kids, women, teenagers, people with special needs, transgender people, etc. Children may not be able to tackle these situations. They won't know what to do and who to tell. Therefore, as a parent and an adult, you need to provide them with guidance.
For instance, the Blue Whale challenge was a major cyberbullying issue. This triggered the world as lots of teenagers and kids were involved. This was an extreme case of social media bullying where the kid was tortured mentally and eventually lead to suicide. It is very important for parents to be aware of cases of social media bullying. This will help you teach your children that it is okay to seek help, and also that no matter what comes, you will be there for them! You must ensure that they come to you first whenever the situation gets out of their control.
Identifying the issue
The first and foremost thing is spending quality time with your kid. Make sure that you talk to them every day. That is how you will come to realise that they are in some trouble or worried about something by noting any change in their tone or behaviour. If you talk to them in an amicable manner, they might open up to you. Look out for changes in their behaviour and signs like refusing to eat, not leaving their rooms, sudden irritable episodes, and a constant feeling of lethargy. That is when you must check on them and find what's wrong.
What can you do?
When you find out that your teen/child is facing cyberbullying, you can take these steps.
Save it and Save them
Cyberbullying and social media happen on a digital platform. This means you can save screenshots of those conversations. This is a big plus point of cyberbullying, you will never run out of evidence. You can seek external help with this evidence. If you think that the device is hacked, capture images or search how to take screenshots.
While the social media can be threatening and enthralling all at the same time, the biggest advantage is you choose who talks to you and who enters your circle. If the situation exceeds a limit, stop responding. If the child starts responding and falls into their trap, then it isn't easy. You can guide your child to retaliate in such cases. Divert them with something engaging and start seeking help simultaneously.
You can do anything with technology. Make sure your child blocks the person immediately and also reports to the respective social media's help centre. If the bullying is too harsh, it is good to inform the police. Receiving threats to harm your kid physically is a common way that the scavenger out in the world use. Advise your teen not to be afraid of them and not to hesitate to seek help.
Talk to the child
In most cases, your kid will start blaming themselves for what happened. They will end up having thoughts that they deserve whatever is happening, and their carelessness led into all this. In such times, you must give them moral support, help them understand that problems come announced and that no matter what happens, this won't change the way you see them. Tell them that it's not their fault, and no one deserves to be treated harshly. In extreme cases, seek the help of Psychiatrists.
Be compassionate to them
Blaming their child is a common mistake most parents make. You must understand the mental state of a child who is being bullied. Try staying patient with them. Talk it out with them and help them deal with it. Even after you seek help from outside, your child will need moral support from you. Scolding them and asking them to stay away from gadgets completely or grounding them will only worsen the situation. Be kind and comforting to them at this time, they need you.
Teach them self-advocacy
Bullying can happen with any child and it can get to any extent. Sometimes, the situation that arise might not require any help from someone external. The child will be mature enough to deal with it themselves. In such situations, it is best to let them protect themselves but make sure that they know that they are not alone. They can ignore such levels of bullying and stay confident.
How to prevent getting affected by cyberbullying?
The best way to keep your child safe from social media bullying is to become friendly with them and educate them about what is right and what is wrong. Only then will they come to you when in trouble.
Here are some more ways to prevent social media bullying:
At regular intervals, ask them about how is their social media life going, and if they saw something new or exciting. Make sure you are keeping an eye on them but also giving them their personal space. Be familiar with all the social media platforms they are using.
Also, allow them to use your gadgets until they reach a certain age. Let them research topics or read books on your devices. As they grow, teach them about the odds of using social media too. Do not scare them but make them aware so that they can protect themselves and can handle the shock, minor or major, if anything wrong happens. Give them the right freedom as a parent.
Keep them aware
Your child must know that cyberbullying happens in today's world. Tell them not to be scared but to come and tell you if they are bullied or if they face something that makes them even slightly uncomfortable. You must also not stop them from using social media altogether. Allow them to use messaging applications only for a few hours, bring it out as a general rule. Try to make them understand that while the social media world is exciting, one must not get detached from the real world. Make them aware of the rules to keep them away from bullying. Tell them not to respond to online threats and blackmail.
Instead of stopping children from getting onto social media platforms, teach them how to stay safe. Let them protect their accounts with passwords. Make sure that they don't share the account with their friends. Also, make them aware of the phishing attacks and spam emails that may reveal their personal information, etc.
Trust And Care go Hand-in-Hand
As a parent, it is scary to allow kids to use gadgets and social media. Although it can't be avoided entirely, steps to prevent cyberbullying can be taken. Keep in touch with your kids and make them aware of these issues. Build their confidence and help them understand the importance of internet safety. These steps can help your child and you to stay safe from social media and cyberbullying.
Ensure that they don't lose their confidence as they get to know about social media bullying. All they need to do is be aware and be prepared. However, they must never be scared and should eventually learn to ignore small issues. Hope this boosts you and your child's self-assurance!
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