"I was mortified to face all those hatred and harassments in my inbox every day! I was tired and scared of how my 'friends' were treating me online. They called me names and spread rumors about me online, and it hurts. It hurts to feel isolated and alone. And it all lasted for eight months until my parents got involved" (An electronic bullying victim, 14 years)

Cyberbullying happens when electronic communication is used to bully a person, typically by sending intimidating or threatening messages or harassing by creating content and circulating to hurt by a single person or a group of people.

Daily, 38% of people experience cyberbullying on social media. 25% of students who are cyberbullied have turned to self-harm as their coping mechanism. Cyberbullying is the No.1 concern for school staff and guardians. Do you know how cyberbullying can affect your child?

It is observed that kids with thinking and learning differences are more likely to be cyberbullied than other children.

  • Posting and sharing content about someone that can hurt.

  • Sending mean texts, Direct Messages, or emails

  • Gossiping and spreading rumors about a person online.

  • Fake a profile by creating a false identity and harassing someone.

  • Sending threatening messages and intimidating someone.

  • Capturing an embarrassing photo or video and posting it online or sharing it with friends without their permission.

  • When an online chat group consisting of multiple people makes fun of a person.

It is essential to understand the difference between peer conflicts like heated-up arguments and cyberbullying. All disputes are not cyberbullying in children. When a kid is sending messages to hurt another on a daily basis purposefully, it is cyberbullying.

How to know if your child had online harassment?

  • He appears to have an unusual and anxious behavior and seems to be tensed after going online.

  • Exhibits a withdrawal from social activities.

  • Shows reluctance to go to school and avoid tasks with the peer.

  • Academic performance drops.

  • Being secretive about what he/she does on the computer.

  • Stop using the computer all of a sudden without an explanation.

  • Shows uneasiness or being jumpy after getting an instant message or notification.

  • Appears withdrawn from family and friends.

Since children of all age groups are vulnerable to cyberbullying, measures should be taken to avoid potential dangers that lurk online. Chat rooms, instant messaging, and social media sites like Snapchat and Facebook are all the platforms where opportunities of being bullied can spring up. Keeping children safe requires your attention and preparation.

Keep your child safe and bully-free

You could do the primary thing to keep the computer, tablets, and other gadgets(including mobile phones, if any) in a safe place. It's important to let them know you're paying attention to their web usage. Keep the computer and their web activities transparent. Keep webcameras away from their bedrooms and private spaces where your engagement is limited.

Make conversations with your child about the websites he/she visits. Let them communicate their ideas about the use of each site they visit. It will help when they have a genuine provider of information on electronic media they are new to. Consider keeping a log of the usernames, websites, and passwords they use, if it is applicable.

Make sure you teach them the DO's and DON'T's while using Webs. Sharing their personal information on social networking sites, chat rooms, or personal webpages must be prohibited. And use the parental control tools to recognize and block sites that are not kid-friendly. And block viruses by setting firewalls.

Follow your child on social media sites and watch their moves and posts to make sure you are protecting them until they can take care of themselves. Speak to them if any posts are inappropriate or are against the guidelines.

If someone is sending mean messages, threatening contents, emails, or instant messages containing unpleasant matters, help them block the account or report the case to responsible officials in the cyber cell.

Ignoring cyberbullies is one practical step you can encourage your child to take. There would be situations what they speak about you isn't true. Remember ignoring them is as easy as closing a messenger window or deleting a mail when they know their worth, and you support them, no matter what others say.

Reporting bully's account to the moderators of social media notified measures would be taken, and bully's account can be suspended. There is 'report abuse' and similar options to control and curb this practice.

When you or your child knows this bully in person, consider making a meeting with him/her/them and parents to discuss the situation and work this out and get to know the reasons it's been happening. There must be reasons for the bully to commit such actions, especially in children's cases; it might bring chances to save a human from further future crimes.

Save a copy of the mail or screenshot that shows the date and time in case of frequent bullying to contact your ISP (Internet Service Provider) to track down the bully or may be the police. Rely upon Anti-bullying helpline numbers in cases you want help.

*Image credits: freepik

Talk to Me