How to Spot Signs of Cyberbullying
As parents, we all want to keep our children safe from harm. It’s not nice to think they might be picked on or unhappy at school or in their social lives.
Unfortunately, bullying is a fairly common occurrence, especially among teens.
However, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be tackled – far from being a part of just growing up, bullying can damage your child’s mental health, even after they’ve left school.
The rapid rise of social media and mobile phone usage in young people has also brought the concept of cyberbullying to the fore, where someone receives unpleasant or threatening messages via their electronic devices.
This can be harder to spot, as it’s all hidden behind a screen, which your child most likely has a passcode on.
So what signs should you look out for when it comes to cyberbullying? Read on to find out.
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Your child is very protective of their phone
We’re all used to having our phones with us the majority of the time now, but if your teen is particularly reluctant to put their device down on the table while they’re doing something else, then it may be a sign that something is wrong.
Even if it’s not cyberbullying, there could be an issue around screen time addiction which you need to tackle.
It may help to have some rules in the house around screen time that everyone follows.
This can help you pick up any usual behavior with your child.
If they’re breaking the rules or seem relieved when they can’t access their phone, it might be worth talking to them about their feelings about being online.
You can see a change in their behavior after going online
Another sign of cyberbullying is damage to their mental health, and as such, it’s often indicated by a change in behavior – whether that’s someone being quieter than usual, angrier, or simply upset.
Paying attention to the behavioral signals your child is demonstrating can be a clear first sign that something is bothering them.
Of course, everyone goes through mood swings, but a prolonged period of unexpected behavior could indicate something is wrong.
Additionally, suppose your child seems nervous when they receive a notification.
In that case, this can also suggest that there may be something going on that they’re not comfortable with.
Your child seems nervous about going out of the house
Withdrawing from family and friends, reluctance to go to school, or hobbies can suggest your teen is battling with something behind the scenes.
While a home can seem like a safe space, seeing bullies in real life or facing the consequences of their threats can be very scary.
School can be challenging as your teen will be surrounded by large groups of their peers.
If you notice that your teen is reducing the amount of time they spend with their friends or they stop telling you about their day, it might be worth checking with them that everything is ok.
15 Emotional Signs of Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying involves using digital communication tools to harass, intimidate, or harm individuals online.
Recognizing the signs of cyberbullying is crucial to identify and address the issue.
If you suspect someone is being cyberbullied or is engaging in cyberbullying, it’s important to intervene and provide support.
Encourage open communication, offer empathy, and involve parents, teachers, or authorities to address the situation effectively.
Cyberbullying can have a significant impact on a person’s emotional well-being.
Here are some emotional signs that may indicate someone is experiencing cyberbullying:
- Increased Anxiety: Victims of cyberbullying often experience heightened levels of anxiety, which may manifest as restlessness, nervousness, or excessive worry.
- Depression: Cyberbullying can lead to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a general lack of interest in things that once brought joy.
- Irritability: Victims may become easily irritated or angered, reacting strongly to even minor triggers.
- Emotional Outbursts: Sudden emotional outbursts, like crying, yelling, or sudden mood swings, can be indicative of the stress caused by cyberbullying.
- Low Self-Esteem: Individuals who are cyberbullied might express feelings of worthlessness, self-doubt, and inadequacy.
- Withdrawal and Isolation: Victims may withdraw from social interactions, both online and offline, due to the fear of encountering the cyberbully or others who might support the bully.
- Fear and Paranoia: The constant threat of cyberbullying can lead to feelings of fear and paranoia, causing individuals to be hyper-vigilant about their online presence.
- Avoidance Behavior: People might avoid situations that remind them of cyberbullying, such as avoiding certain websites or social media platforms altogether.
- Loss of Interest: Victims may lose interest in activities they once enjoyed due to the emotional toll of cyberbullying.
- Difficulty Concentrating: Cyberbullying can affect concentration and focus, leading to difficulties in tasks that require attention and cognitive effort.
- Feelings of Helplessness: Victims of cyberbullying may feel powerless to stop the harassment and may believe there’s no way out of the situation.
- Changes in Sleeping Patterns: Cyberbullying-related stress can disrupt sleep, leading to insomnia, nightmares, or excessive sleeping.
- Physical Symptoms: Emotional distress can manifest as physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomachaches, and muscle tension.
- Self-Blame: Victims might blame themselves for cyberbullying, even if they are not at fault.
- Suicidal Thoughts: In severe cases, the emotional impact of cyberbullying can lead to thoughts of self-harm or suicide. If you suspect someone is feeling this way, seek professional help immediately.
It’s important to recognize these emotional signs of cyberbullying and offer support to those who may be experiencing cyberbullying.
If you or someone you know is struggling with the emotional effects of cyberbullying, call 801.901.0279 so you can get some guidance and assistance managing your mental health.
What to Do About Cyberbullying
Sometimes, your child may come to you and tell you they are being cyberbullied.
In other cases, you may find out from a third party or have to ask them directly because you suspect something is wrong.
No matter how you find out about it, treat your child with kindness, listen to them, and acknowledge the impact this is having.
To tackle cyberbullying, have an honest conversation with your child about any action they’ve taken to stop it so you have the complete picture.
Save any messages and interactions so you have them as evidence, and try to find out who is involved.
Depending on the seriousness and context of the situation, you can then contact the school or police.
Whatever action you decide to take, try and do this with your child’s agreement so as not to break their trust – but in some cases, this is not possible.
You’ll need to put their well-being and safety first.
Help them strengthen their mental health and give them the tools they need to manage life.
Summary of Signs of Cyberbullying
- As parents, we want to keep our children safe from harm.
Unfortunately, bullying is relatively common, especially among teens, and can damage your child’s mental health so watch for signs of cyberbullying.
- The rapid rise of social media and mobile phone usage among young people has brought cyberbullying to the fore.
- If your child is very protective of their phone, it may be a sign that something is wrong. You may need to talk to them about their feelings about being online.
- Bullying damages mental health, and a behavior change can be a clear first sign of something wrong. If your child seems nervous about leaving the house, it could be a sign that they are battling with something behind the scenes.
- When you find out that your child is being cyberbullied, please treat them with kindness, listen to them, and acknowledge the impact this is having.
- To tackle cyberbullying, have an honest conversation with your child about any action they’ve taken to stop it. Save any messages and interactions so you have them as evidence, and contact the school or police if necessary.
- Social Media can be harmful.