Your family may have at least one computer, tablet or smartphone with internet access, which your children can use for entertainment and learning. Although you may be vigilant about monitoring your children’s use and restricting access to inappropriate content, you may not be aware that Internet bullying, also known as cyber bullying, can occur through simple emails, instant messages, or posts and comments created by others .
Dr. Jeff Hutchinson, a juvenile medicine expert in Washington, DC, said that like other forms of bullying, serious consequences such as depression and suicidal thoughts and behaviors are related to cyberbullying. Fortunately, your awareness and vigilance can protect your children from cyberbullying. .
How cyberbullying affects children
Victims of cyberbullying may experience symptoms of depression, including sadness, loneliness, insecurity, poor self-esteem, decline in school, lack of belonging, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Nancy Willard, author of “Cyberbullying and Cyber Threats: Addressing Online Social Attacks, Threats, and Distressing Challenges,” writes that the impact of cyberbullying can be more destructive than campus bullying because of being Children who are cyberbullying have no chance to escape harassment. Due to the anonymity of some Internet harassment, victims may not be able to identify the harasser and feel that everyone is opposed to them.
On the other hand, research shows that the perpetrators of childhood cyberbullying may face both behavioral and psychosocial challenges, which means that youth cyber harassment may be a sign of other problems.
How common is cyberbullying?
Dr. Michele Ybarra and colleagues published a study on Internet harassment in children in 2007. The study found that approximately 9% of children who used the Internet in their study were victims of some form of Internet harassment.In their study, the researchers found that only half of the victims knew their harasser, and boys and girls were equally involved.
Approximately 25% of children who are cyberbullyed are also bullied in different settings.
Interestingly, they found that those who also harass others are significantly more likely to be harassed online.
Types of cyberbullying
According to experts, there are two main types of cyberbullying: direct bullying and proxy bullying.
A direct Internet attack occurs when a bully directly shows offense to others through email, instant messaging, chat rooms, or social posts. This can range from insulting comments to threats of physical violence.
On the other hand, proxy cyberbullying occurs when one person uses another person’s email address or username or creates an impostor account to harass the victim. Bullies may contact everyone in their address book to spread lies, hate information, or reveal contact information or personal information about the victim.
In some cases, websites have been created specifically to harass and criticize someone. In the case of proxy cyberbullying, the victim may not be able to identify who the harasser is.
What can parents do
Although the effects of cyberbullying can make parents feel helpless, there are steps you can take to prepare and protect your children from being or committed cyberbullying.
Talk to your child
First, discuss appropriate Internet behavior with your child, your family rules for Internet use, and discuss the consequences of abuse. Enforce the consequences by taking away the device or shutting down Internet access when necessary when the rules are violated.
Monitor network access
Monitor your child’s internet usage and time spent on the device. Placing the computer in a public area may reduce the temptation to engage in inappropriate activities. Dr. Parry Aftab is a lawyer and an advocate for the safe use of the Internet for children. He recommends searching the Internet for your child’s name to ensure that no negative or false information is posted, or that your child is not associated with harassing content.
If you find bullying, harassment, or abuse, please notify the site or app management immediately to see if they can help investigate the incident. If your child is contacted or harassed by an adult, if your child is threatened in any way, or if efforts to stop the harassment fail, please contact the police. When the bully can be identified, it may also be effective to notify your child’s school of the cyberbullying.
Watch for signs of depression
If you find that your child has symptoms of depression, please consult their pediatrician. Their doctor can determine if your child has clinical depression and recommend appropriate treatment.