Cyberbullying is when someone receives hate or abuse online, often through social media or messaging. Over the past few years, reported instances of cyberbullying have increased significantly as we become more reliant on digital technology to communicate. It’s particularly a problem for teens and young children, many of whom spend a lot of time online and posting on social media.
Cyberbullying can become a serious issue and is just as harmful as regular bullying. Children who are victims of online abuse may develop conditions such as anxiety, eating disorders, and depression. ExpressVPN highlights the issue of cyberbullying in its latest survey and report. In this article, we’ll share how you can spot if your child is potentially being bullied online.
Their Mood has Changed
Mood changes are common in young people, particularly as they hit their teens. However, if your child goes from being happy and outgoing to becoming sullen and withdrawn, it may be because something is troubling them. Anxiety increased stress, and other issues are common signs of bullying, which also applies to cyberbullying.
They’ve Become Secretive About Their Devices
Many victims of bullying and abuse often feel shame about what is happening to them and are unlikely to share what’s happening even if they trust you. While children will normally be secretive about their devices, if you notice them going to new lengths to hide them from you, then something could be up. For example, if your child starts leaving the room to check their device, it may be because they´re upset about something.
They Don´t Want to Go to School or Clubs
If your child is suddenly less keen on attending school or their normal after-school clubs, it could be a sign that something is wrong. Even when bullying is done online, children often don´t want to attend school and see their peers, as they feel a lot of shame and anxiety. Many of their school peers may also be taking part in the bullying or at least know about it.
Their Device Usage Changes
Some victims of cyberbullying may end up using their devices more, while others may use them less. If you notice a significant change in your child´s behavior concerning their phone or computer, you may want to consider looking for other signs of potential cyberbullying. Children who face cyberbullying often want to check their phones constantly, either trying to stop the bullying or to see how far its spread.
They Seem Nervous When Receiving Notification
Many children react to notifications by opening their phones and checking to see who’s contacting them. However, if you notice that they seem nervous or jumpy each time they get a notification, it could be a sign of cyberbullying. Each notification could be sent from a bully, causing your child distress and worry.
What to do if You Notice Signs of Cyberbullying
If you notice any of the above signs, you need to act to help your child and ensure they’re safe from bullying. The first thing to do is speak to your child and ensure they know they can tell you about anything bothering them. Encourage them to share their feelings and any problems they have, no matter how big or small.
Aside from encouraging open discussion, make sure your children understand how to stay safe online and that they can report cyberbullying content to get it removed. If the problem persists, you can also contact the school to see what safeguarding measures they can put in place.