I am so glad I ran across my guest’s path in the blog-o-sphere. She has some very worthwhile and valuable information for us. Please welcome, Robyn Storey.
Bullying is not how it used to be: going to school and having a bully take your lunch money and teasing in the hallways. While bullying at school is still present, another form is rising: cyberbullying. This is an especially dangerous form of bullying because kids can no longer feel safe at school or even in their own home.
Cyberbullying involves the “use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person” (KidsHealth, 2015). It largely happens to young adults below the age of 18, because adults can be charged with harassment or stalking. Unfortunately, not a lot of action is usually taken when it happens among teenagers and young adults.
In 2013, The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey was conducted to see how prevalent cyberbullying was among young adults. It found that 15% of high school students (grades 9-12) were cyberbullied in the past year. (U.S Department of Health & Human Services, 2015)
This form of bullying can happen over any form of social media: instant message, text message, forums, blogs, or any form of social networking (such as Facebook or Twitter). It can also happen on any device that these kids have: cell phones, laptops, tablets, and any other device that can connect to the internet.
So how can you tell if your child is being cyberbullied? Here are some signs (KidsHealth, 2014):
• Withdrawing from family and friends
• Getting upset after using the computer or phone
• Struggling academically
• Being very secretive or protective of one’s computer or cell phone
• Changes in mood, behavior, sleep, or appetite
• Stops using the computer or phone
So as a parent, how can you help your child? (KidsHealth, 2014)
• Offer emotional support. Tell your child if you have had any experiences with bullies when you were a child: this can help them feel less alone in their experience.
• Praise your child for telling you, and let them know that you will work it out together.
• Emphasize to your child to not fuel the fire: do not respond to any of the bullies messages, texts, or posts.
• Ask your child if it is ok if you can speak to a school counselor or the principal. Do not just tell them that you are going to do it, it is important to ask them if it is all right.
• Help your child block the bully on whatever form of media they are using.
• Do not force them to give up all aspects of technology. Technology is not always bad, it does help kids connect to each other, and the internet gives kids the opportunity to learn many things. Simply put some time limits on internet or phone use. You can place some parental controls on technology, but do not abuse this privilege!
There are many websites out there dedicated to teaching parents and kids the safety of technology and the internet. Here are some websites that have lots of information on what it is, why it happens, how it effects kids, and what to do to prevent it:
Do not hesitate to have your child see a professional. Therapists can teach children proper strategies on how to help with bullying and how to re-build their self-esteem.
Kids Health. (2014). Cyberbullying. Retrieved from KidsHealth: http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/talk/cyberbullying.html#
U.S Department of Health & Human Services. (2015). What is Cyberbullying? Retrieved from Stopbullying.gov: http://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it/#effectsofcyberbullying
My name is Robyn Storey and I have a strong passion for mental health. Achieving a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology taught me the skills to help those striving for positive mental health. In the future I hope to become a therapist to aid those struggling with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mood disorders. But currently, I am journeying through life with my husband of 3 years and my german shepherd, Hera. We are all capable of happiness, we just need love and compassion to have everyone discover theirs.