Top ways to protect your child or teen from cyberbullying

By:
Bend Health
5/31/2024
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Bullying doesn’t just happen on the school playground anymore. Thanks to smartphones, social media, and the internet, bullying can happen anywhere at any time.

Navigating this type of bullying can be difficult, so the team at Bend Health is here with our top tips to help you protect your child or teen from cyberbullying.

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is when someone uses technology to threaten, embarrass, or harass another person. This type of online bullying can happen via texts, emails, social media posts, or on any online platform. It’s important to take cyberbullying seriously because it can affect a child or teen’s mental health and can cause anxiety, depression, inability to focus, or even self-harm.

Every child is different, but common signs of cyberbullying can include:

  • Seeming upset during or after using their phone or a computer
  • Hiding their online experiences from you
  • Being socially isolated or withdrawn
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Changes in mood
  • Not wanting to go to school or changes in grades
  • Increased references to violence, death, or self-harm behaviors
  • Physical complaints (such as stomach aches)

How to talk to your child or teen about cyberbullying.

Just because your child hasn’t brought up bullying doesn’t mean that they’ve never experienced it. Some kids may be hesitant to bring it up because they feel embarrassed. They may also fear that you’ll get involved and it will make things worse, or they may believe it is their fault. That’s why we encourage you to not wait until a situation arises to bring up the topic with your family.

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Cyberbullying tips to keep your child safe.

  • Teach online safety. Tell your child not toto not share their personal information online, download unknown files, to not make purchases without your permission, and to be wary of strangers. It’s important to teach them that it’s easy to lie and pose as someone else online. Most importantly, tell them to never agree to meet up with someone that they do not know, even if they feel like a “friend.”
  • Let them know you’ll be there. Tell your child clearly and directly that if something online makes them feel bad, it is likely cyberbullying, and that they can come to you to discuss anything that happens. Reassure them that you’ll be there to listen without judgment when something comes up. Leave the door open if it’s not the right time to talk.
  • Teach them to take action. Let your teen know that they can use the reporting and blocking features on their social media accounts. You can also take time to review comments with your child and block as needed together.
  • Keep track of events. If there is a pattern of behavior, be sure to record times, dates, and specific details of all incidents. This can be helpful if you need to report behaviors to your child’s school administration.
  • Come up with a plan. If your child experiences cyberbullying, come up with a plan so that you can best support them in a way that feels the most comfortable. With your child’s permission, consider notifying their school administrator about the situation and finding out their policies on bullying.
  • Consider monitoring online activity. Depending on your child’s age and access to digital devices, consider checking in frequently on their online activity or place the computer in a shared space. You can also ask to follow their social media accounts and set parental controls on devices and apps, but remember that no system is foolproof.

Everyone deserves to feel safe and respected in real life and online. If your child is being affected by cyberbullying, we encourage you to take it seriously. A mental health professional can help your family navigate the situation and ensure that you have support along the way.

By being a trusted source of information, your child will be more likely to come to you for support if they face cyberbullying.

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