In the last 15 to 20 years, there has been a significant increase in social media. The days of calling your friends to talk on the phone are now replaced with text messaging, chatting over video games, Instant Messaging and FaceTime. There are much fewer in-person conversations happening for children.
The phone is now considered a direct link to someone’s social life and friends. When adolescents lose their phone privileges it is like losing their connection to their very best friend.
There are many changes in the world of social media. With the invention of more electronics, a new danger has come along: cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is a serious type of bullying that occurs when someone will say or write mean comments about another person online. The scary part of cyberbullying is that the mean comments, what’s being written about you, cannot be taken away or stopped as easily as other forms of bullying. It is much harder to address and can be more difficult to prove.
If your child is being cyberbullied, it is important to think about a few things:
The first thing you want to do is to explore what’s going on. Help your child handle the cyber bullying by talking to them and exploring the extent of the bullying by asking open-ended questions such as “how often are you experiencing these mean comments on-line?”
Then it is important to have your child write a note to the bully on-line and ask them to stop.
If this letter does not work and seems to escalate the situation, it is important to bring this information to the principal of the school if the cyberbully attends the same school as your child. If the bully attends the same school as your child, it is important to take screenshots for evidence that this was the person who attacked your child online. It is important to make sure you have copies of this to provide to the principal. Every state has different legal obligations to address bullying, but it is important to attempt to work with the school, around this issue.
If the cyberbully is someone that your child does not know, it is important to still find out the extent of the bullying. It may also be helpful to take any affected profiles down so no new attacks can be made on any child who is being cyberbullied on-line.
If the cyberbullying starts to negatively impact your child’s self-esteem, it is important to seek professional help to address these issues. Showing empathy, empowering your child to take steps to change the situation, and engaging the appropriate authorities to help with safety is the right way to start addressing cyberbullying. You can also seek a professional therapist who can help your child gain self-esteem and develop strategies to handle the bullying. It is important that children take the power they have – over their own behavior and how they choose to change the situation.
Are you worried that your child is being cyberbullied? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Danielle Matthew, LMFT, founder of The Empowerment Space: firstname.lastname@example.org or 818-267-4282.