Although seldom discussed, cyberbullying is a global phenomenon, and its effects over children around the globe are devastating. With children becoming crankier, addicted to their smartphones, and antisocial, it is the duty of every modern parent to take this issue seriously and stop their children from becoming a victim of cyberbullying.
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is a form of harassment executed through digital devices and platforms. Be it social media sites or anonymous chat rooms – wherever there is room for users to view and share content, there are miscreants who find pleasure in demeaning and harassing children. Oftentimes the perpetrators of this crime are children themselves.
The Different Forms of Cyberbullying
Gaining awareness about the various types of cyberbullying is the first step that parents need to take. This empowers parents to report instances of cyberbullying and implement measures to stop their children from being a victim of cyberbullying. Here are some of the most common forms of cyberbullying:
- Posting spiteful, nasty, or embarrassing gossip or comments about a person on digital platforms
- Posting and circulating embarrassing photos and videos
- Creating fake profiles to share fake information about individuals
- Posting online threats prompting a child to kill or harm themselves or someone else
- Prompting religious, ethnic, cultural, or political hatred online by constantly posting hate content
- Faking online identities to force children into sharing private information and pictures
- Doxing – Researching and posting the private information of a user
Cyberbullying – A Worrying Practice that is on the Rise
With increasing accessibility of affordable devices and data services, these predators and harassers are gearing up their social media presence. Globally, cyberbullying is rising alarmingly quickly. Ipsos’ recent Global-Advisor study conducted in 28 countries revealed this global trend of cyberbullying:
- Internationally, 17% parents stated that their child has been a victim of cyberbullying.
- This percentage has seen a major increase for certain countries such as -South Africa (10% in 2011 to 28% presently), Turkey (5% in 2011 to 20% presently) and The United States where a whopping 27% (from 15% in 2011) parents reported that their children have been a victim of cyberbullying. Keep in mind this doesn’t account for cyberbullying that goes undetected by parents.
All these statistics clearly show that at least one out of six children globally face being cyberbullied. In the USA, that number is one out of four.
- The American organization, Cyberbullying Research Center, reported that 64% of the victims who suffered from cyberbullying stated that it affected their ability to feel safe and learn at school.
- As stated by a study by Center for Disease Control, it was revealed that students who go through cyberbullying find it very difficult to adapt to social circles, especially in their schools. They are also more prone to suffer from mental health and behavioral problems. Other health problems such as headaches and panic attacks were also found to be a direct impact of cyberbullying, according to that study.
- In another study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, it was revealed that 19% of the students who had been cyberbullied said that the experience had a severe impact on how they felt about their social role. 14% of the students who participated in that study said that their experience of being cyberbullied had a damaging impact on their familial relationships, friendships and 9% students stated that it caused an adverse effect on their schoolwork. In most cases students stated that it was either a classmate or someone from a similar age group who perpetrated this online abuse.
What’s perhaps more distressing, however, is the effect cyberbullying has on the students who engage in cyberbullying. As stated by a study issued in The Journal of Early Adolescence, in many situations cyberbullying helped advancing a student’s alleged popularity. This implies that we as a society promote this type of conduct by gratifying those who commit it with improved social reputation.
How Can You Tell If Your Child is a Victim of this Vicious Practice of Cyberbullying?
Seeing how widespread cyberbullying is in modern society, it is vital to study the signs that a child is under attack. According to a study conducted by the National Crime Prevention Center, there are numerous behavioral changes that a child being cyberbullied may go through. Some of them include:
- Becoming nervous and withdrawn
- Becoming temperamental, restless, uneasy or stressed out
- Act more hostilely towards parents when asked about their situation
- Show dissent towards the idea of going to school
- Skip classes
- Experience a significant slump in academic performances
- Stop using digital devices
- Alter eating and sleeping habits
- Try self-harming or demonstrate suicidal tendencies
- Suddenly change his or her group of friends
These are considered to be the main red flags. When a child with all the necessary resources goes into depression and deems being disconnected from the internet and the world as his or her last solace, it is a huge concern.
Recognizing the Perpetrators of Cyberbullying
Apart from identifying the victims of cyberbullying, it is also important to recognize when a child is committing cyberbullying.
As revealed by the figures, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to teenagers engaging in cyberbullying. And these figures are based on only those who admit to committing cyberbullying.
While it’s complicated to verify when someone is perpetrating cyberbullying, the National Crime Prevention Center has put forward some behavioral tendencies those who are perpetrating cyberbullying will show:
- Stop using their device in the presence of their parents
- Look anxious or jittery when online
- Be private about their online profiles
- Spend too much time on their computer
- Creates fake profiles or has multiple profiles and email IDs
- Become irritated or distraught when internet rights are taken away
If you see anyone exhibiting these types of behaviors, then it is vital to investigate more and intervene where possible.
What You should do if your Child is a Victim of Cyberbullying
Statistics show that 75% of kids experience cyberbullying, including being bullied, committing bullying, or witnessing bullying.
A study entitled Teen Online and Wireless Safety Survey conducted by Cox Communications revealed that 81% of kids think that cyberbullying is a lot easier to get away with as compared to bullying in real life. This suggests that only a small group of parents are aware of cyberbullying. This is why adults, who see instances of cyberbullying, must take the following steps:
- Go through your kid’s phone. Analyze their contact list and the people with whom they communicate on instant messaging platforms so that a clear idea can be gained about the people they are contacting.
- Talk to them about cyberbullying so that they can feel free to communicate in case they fall victim to it in the future.
- Stress on the fact that their internet or other privileges will not be lost if they are getting cyberbullied. According to National Crime Prevention Center, fear of losing their phones and their internet connections is a big reason as to why children chose to not speak up to their parents.
- Raise the problem with the child’s teachers and school superintendents so that they too can address this issue in classrooms.
- Reach out to your kid’s friend group. Engaging witnesses is a crucial factor in combating bullying, so it’s vital that those observing this exploitation know how to react to these types of situations.
- Save emails, texts or comments that prove that your kid has been a victim of cyberbullying
- Don’t engage in a distasteful conversation with the bully. Two negatives never make a positive in this case.
- Report your concerns to the website. Most major social media and content sharing platforms such as Facebook and YouTube have strict guidelines concerning online abuse. Reporting cyberbullying is very easy.
Telling someone you trust in about this issue is the first step to resolving it. Parents must communicate with their kids in order to solve such a serious issue.
Protect your child with MMGuardian
Modern problems require modern solutions. MMGuardian is an app dedicated to ensuring that your child browses the internet and communicates with his or her peers in the safest way possible. In addition to allowing parents of children with Androids to monitor all of your child’s SMS text messages, MMGuardian will automatically scan all SMS texts sent to and from the child’s phone, along with internet browsing, and if potential bullying is detected, you will be alerted on your phone directly. MMGuardian also provides a large number of other features such as usage reporting, inappropriate picture detection, time limits, app control, location, contact blocking, and much more! There is also an iPhone version of the MMGuardian child app with different features that pairs very well with Apple’s built in iPhone parental controls called Screen Time. You can learn more about the iPhone version by clicking here.
To get started with MMGuardian for Android or iPhone and receive a 14-day free trial, click here.
Consider also joining our Facebook group “Tech-Savvy Parenting” to discuss raising kids in the 21st century with other parents.
Stopping harassment and online abuse is a vital way in which we can contribute to a compassionate society that respects everyone and protects our children. After all, the children are the future of every nation, and it is our duty to ensure that they always enjoy a safe social life.