Cyberbullying is getting a lot of attention these days. Kids used to worry about bullies at school or on the way to and from school. Now those bullies access them at all times through the social media that is meant for connecting with ‘friends’. Kids don’t always tell their parents about these situations, so parents need to be watching for the signs themselves.
- Rumor spreading – Sending false rumors to your child’s friends or acquaintances is one form. Watch for postings where your child is refuting the claims of another, or questions from their friends that may not mention the rumor specifically, but simply say, ‘Is it true?’
- Name calling – Watch for posts which place labels on your child or call them names. Your child may brush it off as ‘teasing’. Pay attention to their reactions to the messages. If it doesn’t make them laugh, then it is bullying.
- Insulting messages – Messages that degrade your child in some way are another form of cyber bullying. It may be regarding the way they dress, a physical feature or some mistake they made.
- Impersonation – Some bullies will go so far as to set up fake profiles pretending to be your child in order to get them in trouble or to make their friends mad at them.
- Threats of harm – Open, bold threats of physical harm should never be ignored. Even if they are not actually carried out, the trauma that results from the anxiety and fear can be even more devastating.
- Vulgar language – Cursing and other vulgar language sent to your child or posted on their wall can be another attempt to intimidate them.
- Humiliation – Posting information about embarrassing incidents is one way bullies try to humiliate other kids. It could be in the form of words, photos or videos.
- Group de-friending – Encouraging other kids to remove themselves from your child’s friends list on the social network is another way that cyber bullies try to intimidate kids.
- Mocking – Most kids know how to make home videos and post them online. Making videos where your child is being mocked in some way, such as foolish impersonation, is another tactic of cyber bullies.
- Intimidation of friends – Making fun of your child’s friends via the social network is another way that these bullies try to hurt your child. Other kids may withdraw their friendship to avoid the association with someone else who is being harassed, to avoid becoming a target themselves.
These are all signs to watch for on your child’s social media connections. It’s not all fun and games, and it is important for a parent to keep a watchful eye on what goes on in their kids cyberworld. Cyberbullies have parents too. Don’t be too quick to defend your child, if they are accused of using these tactics against other kids. Be prepared to provide the proper discipline, if they have been the cause of distress to others.