Cyberbullying is carried out using digital technologies to harass, insult and threaten. You can help your child avoid this by agreeing on the rules for using smartphones, computers and the Internet.
What you need to know
Cyberbullying is when a person uses digital technology to deliberately and repeatedly harass, humiliate, torture, threaten, or intimidate another person. Different methods are used - by using a mobile phone, text messages and e-mail, in online games and on social networking sites.
- sending messages that threaten people or overwhelm people
- spreading unpleasant rumors on the Internet
- creating nasty and fake social media accounts using real photos and contact details
- trolling or stalking online
- exchange or forwarding of personal information
- posting offensive photos or videos.
Bullying can occur at any time of the day or night, wherever there is internet or mobile access. If your child has a disability or mental health problem, such as depression or anxiety, this can make the situation worse.
Online bullying often leaves teens with low self-esteem, less interest in school, and poor academic performance. They may also feel lonely and isolated. Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, stress and, in extreme cases, suicidal thoughts can appear.
Helping your child
Here are some things you can do:
Harmonization of rules. Having clear rules about when your child can use their cell phone, computer, or tablet can help them avoid problems. For example, cyberbullying often occurs at night through text messages and images. It's best if you agree to turn off all devices overnight.
Talk to your child. It is a good idea to start a conversation when your child first starts using social media or receives a cell phone. You can talk about:
- what cyberbullying looks like
- what an attacker can do - for example, can make you feel very frustrated and lonely.
- consequences - for example, "the victim may stop attending school."
Internet Security Conversation. Talk about things like:
- friends on social media - if your child adds someone he doesn't really know as a “friend,” he gives that person access to information about him that can be used to bully
- do not give out passwords to friends. Some teens do this as a sign of trust, but the password gives other people the ability to impersonate your child on the Internet.
- think well before writing - if your child posts personal comments, photos or videos, they may receive unwanted attention or negative comments that may be available online for a long time
- tell you, a teacher, or other trusted adult if he is worried about what is happening on the Internet.
Difference from other bullying
People who use online intimidation often behave more daringly than if they faced their victim in person. Sending taunts remotely and anonymously makes them feel safer and more powerful. They are unable to see the physical or emotional reactions of their victims that might influence bullying behavior. Because teens often use mobile phones and the internet, bullying can happen 24 hours a day, not just at school or on the street. Victims may not know who is bullying or when the bully will hit the next. This can make teens feel harassed even when they are at home.