How to Spot the Signs of Cyberbullying
As many children now have access to mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, they can now communicate with other kids outside of the classroom. While it can help to strengthen your child’s bond with their friends, it could also lead to cyberbullying that can take its toll on a child’s mental health.
Unfortunately, many children might feel afraid or embarrassed to talk about the problem with their parents. It is, therefore, essential that parents identify if their kids are being bullied as soon as possible. Find out how to spot the signs of cyberbullying.
A Fear of School
One of the big signs of cyberbullying is a fear of school. Your son or daughter might suddenly feel nervous about going to school, which could cause them to appear irritable or fidgety. They also might fake an illness to skip school and stay at home.
If this sounds familiar, it could be an indication that your child is afraid of classmates who are bullying them online and/or in-person. Sit your child down to discuss why they are afraid of school and aim to get to the root cause of their fear.
Anxious About Their Device
If your child appears anxious about you viewing their smartphone, laptop, or tablet, they might be attempting to hide cyberbullying from you. It is, therefore, important to regularly review each device and platform they use. You also should state they can only use their devices in an adult’s presence.
As mentioned earlier, many children will attempt to hide cyberbullying from their parents, but they might be unable to hide their upset or anger when struggling with cyberbullying. Pay close attention to your child after using their device, as they could appear upset, angry or frustrated. Even if they don’t cry or shout, they might slam their device shut or throw it away from them.
Many victims of cyberbullying are often afraid to speak out, as they might believe their parents will march up to a headteacher’s office to report the issue. For this reason, they might be increasingly secretive when you ask them questions about their social media use.
It’s for this reason why you must establish rules for device usage in the home. For example, you must state they can only have a smartphone, tablet, or laptop if they provide access to their accounts. It will allow you to identify cyberbullying as soon as possible, and you can then take the steps to protect your child, such as booking an appointment with their teacher and providing your child with helpful advice and coping mechanisms.
Mental abuse can take a physical toll on victims of cyberbullying. If you have noticed your child has lost or gained weight, suffers from frequent headaches and stomach bugs, or struggles to eat each day, it is possible cyberbullying is to blame. The longer the problem persists, the more it will impact their health. You must, therefore, aim to have an open and honest discussion with your son or daughter. If they don’t have an answer for their health changes, book an appointment with your GP.
A Low Mood or Depression
Painful comments and continual abuse online could severely impact your child’s mental health, which could cause them to struggle with a low mood or even depression. If your son or daughter appears deeply unhappy and wants to spend most of their spare time alone in their room, it could be a sign of cyberbullying.
Look for ways to improve their mood and outlook on life by planning fun day out as a family or by giving them something to look forward to, such as the promise of a gift or a holiday. Your child might also benefit from talking to a counsellor, as they are might prefer to discuss their worries or problems with a mental health professional who could encourage them to talk about their emotions.
Children might struggle to control their overwhelming emotions when dealing with cyberbullying. As a result, their instinct will be to push their loved ones away, which might be due to a fear of them asking questions they don’t want to answer.
If your child is becoming increasingly distant, you must let them know you are there for them and are willing to talk about anything without repercussions.
Children will often mull over the negative comments cyberbullies have said to them online, or they might be unable to sleep out of fear for the future. If your child struggles from insomnia, or appears sleepy during the day, it could be one of many signs of cyberbullying.
Poor Academic Performance
If your child is suddenly falling behind at school, it could be an indication that they are being bullied inside and/or outside of the classroom. Talk to their teacher about their academic performance and the classroom environment. If you suspect your child is being bullied and they refuse to talk to you about it, a teacher could closely monitor your son or daughter to spot any potential signs of bullying.
It is important to be aware that UK law requires every school to introduce measures to prevent bullying both inside and outside of school. Schools also shouldn’t only become involved at the start of bullying, as they must adopt preventable tactics to stop it from happening in the first place. If your child is a victim of bullying, the school must immediately respond to the problem, provide a victim with support and take the steps to ensure the bullying never happens again.
How to Stop Cyberbullying
If you suspect your child is being cyberbullied, or they open up about the problem to you, the best solution is to talk to their teacher to find a solution to the problem. You also could contact the National Bullying Helpline, as they can provide helpful advice and information on how to communicate with your son or daughter’s school.
If your child appears depressed, irritable, secretive, or antisocial, they could be signs of cyberbullying. However, their problems could stem from classroom bullying by other kids or even their teacher. It’s for this reason why you must regularly communicate with your child, encourage them to discuss their emotions, and monitor their device usage.