Cyberbullying - What Every Parent Needs to Know
Bullying was once primarily confined to the playground but as young people get more involved in the digital world, a new form has emerged - cyber bullying.
The main problem with cyber bullying is that it can be very hard for parents to spot unless alerted by their children. Additionally, the effect can more intense, as bullies do not see, first-hand, the impact of their actions, and victims are less able to seek refuge at home.
These problems can in turn be highly damaging to children. As an adult, especially as a parent, it is important to find out more about cyberbullying, how it happens and how it can be tackled.
How children can be cyber bullied
Any form of electronic communication can be used as an outlet for cyber bullies. Here are some of the main ones that parents should look out for:
Streams of abusive text messages can be one of the most common ways children are cyber bullied. This method of bullying is immediate and can be particularly harmful to your child because mobile phone bullying is highly intrusive.
Cyber bullies often create fake accounts to send abusive or threatening messages as well as inappropriate images or video.
Social networking websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Bebo and Myspace are prime spaces where bullies can operate, posting hateful images or information that is widely accessible to the public.
Cyber bullying on these platforms is especially dangerous as people with fake accounts can carry out bullying openly, which can be particularly damaging to your child's self esteem.
Chat rooms are no longer the open fields they once were. Despite this, bullies can still manage to intimidate and post harmful information on these supposedly-monitored websites.
What you can do to help
It's always important that you talk with your child about bullying and its effects. Be sure to explain that it is never acceptible for somebody to be bullied and that they should always report cases of bullying to a teacher or responsible adult.
Mobile phone providers all offer parental controls, and it is often just a question of phoning up to activate them. For more information, visit http://parents.vodafone.com/.
While you can follow your children on social media, the problem with cyber bullying is that, by and large, it's hard to see. Making sure your child knows they can talk to you about it is probably the easiest way to find out if it is going on.
By teaching your child to manage their online life, you can help reduce the risk of bullying. Emails and mobile phones have block options, which enable certain numbers or email addresses to be blocked off. By having these avenues blocked off to bullies, it reduces the risk of prolonged abuse.
If bullying persists
If the problem does not go away, you should always make sure that your child logs this information, so it can be taken to the school or parents of the bully.
There are many sites that give valuable advice and support to children suffering from cyberbullying, so be sure to direct your child to there.