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How Can I Be Aware of and Prevent Cyberbullying as a Parent?

Cyberbullying is such an insidious and unavoidable form of bullying today. As a parent, how can you spot the warning signs and prevent it?

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Lori McNeil
Children's Safety Writer
Educator
Cyberbullying has serious consequences for many victims. Young people get hurt and lose self-esteem and confidence. And it’s so easy to miss all this happening when someone is hiding behind a screen and your teen may be afraid to speak up. These considerations mean adults need to recognize signs of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying occurs online and can be conducted through email, text messages, social media, or online gaming and can involve (but is not limited to):

  • Sending mean messages to someone
  • Spreading rumors on public forums
  • Posting embarrassing photographs or stories
  • Using a fake profile to trick or deceive someone

According to StopBullying.gov, teenagers who experience cyberbullying are often bullied in person as well. It's hard for young people to escape cyberbullying because they can be subjected to it so easily. Many parents are unaware that their child is a victim of bullying until it becomes very serious. But there are ways that you can spot the warning signs. Victims of cyberbullying will often:

  • Become withdrawn or unsocial
  • Have trouble sleeping
  • Avoid going online or using their phones
  • Quickly close web pages if you come near
  • Avoid or refuse to go to school

Remind your child never to post personal information online such as telephone numbers, bank details, and addresses because unwanted parties can use this information. They should also never meet people face-to-face that they only know online. While it’s difficult to control how young people use the internet, parents should be aware of how their children are interacting online and be vigilant for any changes in behavior that may have resulted from cyberbullying. Encourage your teenager to speak openly about any issues they’re facing. If they’re being abused in social media settings, help them take action to block the bully and alert someone who can help stop the situation.

Encourage your student to be an advocate for change with suggestions from our article on Bullying Prevention: How to Beat the Bystander Effect and Be an Ally.

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