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15. 04. 2018

Cyberbullying

Bullying isn’t new. But just like how our technology has evolved, bullying has evolved. Thanks to our always-on mobile technology and our nature of sharing everything online, cyberbullying is the new trend. Cyberbullying is becoming the biggest online concern, already affecting about 35% of children worldwide.

Cyberbullying can be defined as the use of technology to harass, embarrass, or threaten another person. It doesn’t require any kind of physical presence and as cyberbullies can easily benefit from the anonymity of the Internet and hide their true identity, it can take place 24/7. Cyberbullying can have a huge impact on people and has even gone to the extent of driving people to commit suicide.

Cyberbullying includes

  1. Sending mean emails, messages, or texts
  2. Spreading gossip and rumors about others online
  3. Sharing embarrassing photos and videos about others

Cyberbullying can be done either by individuals or can even be done by a group.

How to find whether our kids are being cyberbullied

At times, it is difficult to learn whether a child is being bullied or not as the child might feel too scared to tell their parents. Cyberbullying causes both physical, as well as emotional issues and there are certain behavioural changes which can help us find out if a child is a victim.

  1. Withdrawal: your child might begin to withdraw from their school and friends as well as family members and might change their online habits
  2. Inexplicable anxiety or aggression
  3. Loss of interest in studies leading to lower marks
  4. Eating disorders 

Protecting our children from cyberbullying

In today’s world where there is an ever-increasing use of digital technology and online socializing, it’s very important to make our kids aware of cyberbullying. Some kids might be worried about losing their internet privileges and won’t confess to their parents what’s happening, so it’s important that they know they that you’re on the same team.

We need talk to our kids and discuss with them what cyberbullying is, and what they should do if it ever happens to them. It’s also important for us to make our kids aware of the fact that it can be a common thing these days and that they should be open to discuss it and should face it with courage, and that you can find a solution to it together.

Preventing cyberbullying

  1. Encourage your kids to tell you about their online activities. Ask them to be aware of all that they do online. You should also encourage them to come and talk to you straightaway in case they are bullied.
  2. Encourage the use of security systems and keep their profiles private. They should also know how to block and delete anyone bullying them.
  3. Educate your kids about appropriate online behavior, which means you should make them understand that posting things without thinking can lead to hurting themselves or someone else easily and unknowingly.
  4. Without invading their personal space, monitor their online and phone activities. Become their friends on social sites, visit the sites explored by them with them and let them show you their favourite things to do and read online.
  5. Think about installing online security on all devices. There are lots of security systems available which come with parental locks and controls and thus allow you to keep a check on your kids’ online activities. 

If your child is being cyberbullied

We should stay calm and encourage our kids to face any bullying strongly and to not panic. We should ask our kids to not react or respond. Deleting any abusive remarks or messages should not be encouraged, but rather should be preserved as evidence. We can also block or delete the bully. If there is sexual bullying or threats to children, police should be involved immediately. If the bully is someone from school, the school authorities as well as other parents should be taken into confidence and the problem should be sorted out.

It is very important to stand up against and stop cyberbullying, as it is not only an emotional and possibly physical trauma for the person being bullied, but also indicates that the bully needs psychological help too.

Written by Payal Malhotra, Lipa Consul for India

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