The fact is, online bullying is at an all-time high. Almost half of all children surveyed report to being bullied online. Because it is so prevalent, the best way you can protect your child is to brush up on the signs of online abuse and how to deal with it.
Signs of Online Bullying
First, let’s look at a few signs that could mean that your child is being bullied online. It’s important to keep open communication with your child so that you can notice differences in behaviour that might be very subtle in nature.
- They Tell You – Most kids do not tell their parents if they are being bullied, either online or in person. But some do. Donít dismiss their concerns if they tell you about it. Instead, be proactive in helping them end it.
- They Stop Using Their Device – Some kids react by not wanting to play games, get online, or even use their smartphone due to the bullying.
- They Try to Hide Their Device – it’s odd, but sometimes kids will protect their device more instead of not using it. They will hide the messages and not want you to see them. They may even accuse you of invading their privacy.
- They Seem Nervous or Jumpy – Often if the bullying is happening from a stranger, kids might be afraid of the person and start acting jumpy. They might begin double-checking house security and other strange behaviours like that.
- They Seem Depressed and Withdrawn – Anytime your child’s behaviour changes and they act differently than usual (such as being depressed and withdrawn when they usually are not), this is a sign that something is not right.
- They Lose Interest in School – When someone is being bullied, even if it’s online, it’s still often by students that they must see every day. If it is, they may start not wanting to go or be around their peers.
- They Make Comments That Disturb You – Comments like “I have no friends” or “Everyone hates me” or “I’m dumb” and so forth are signs that someone may be telling your child something that is making them feel isolated and alone.
Now that we’ve highlighted several of the behaviours that might signal online bullying, itís time to figure out what to do about it. This list of how to respond will be beneficial if you’re experiencing the same thing.
What to Do about Online Abuse
Dealing with online abuse is not that much different from dealing with offline abuse, except that you do have technology at your fingertips that you can use to control the situation better than in person. However, keep in mind that a lot of online abuse does trickle down to the offline world.
- Take Screen Shots – When you see the evidence, take screenshots of it so that you have a record of it. You can use software that is already on your computer for this. For taking screenshots with a phone, check your user manual or online for how to do it.
- Report and Block the Person – Teach your child not to respond in any way to these types of people the moment they realise that it’s not going to go well. Ask them to just block the person and, if they are doing something illegal, to report them right away using the tools on the platform. If the bullying reaches criminal behaviour such as threatening death or harm, report it to the police immediately.
- Change Passwords – You never know what else is happening with an online bully, especially if you don’t know who they are in real life. Take this time to change all passwords. Teach your child how to make hard passwords. If you can, set up two-step authentication.
- Check Security Settings – You may want to look at all the security sections so that you can find out what others can see about your child’s information. You don’t want everyone to have their location and phone number or other identifying facts.
- Delete All Messages – Keep in mind that if the messages are criminal in nature, you may want to keep them until after a police report has been filed. But if you aren’t going to report it to the police, take the screenshot and keep it. Then delete all the messages so your child doesn’t have to keep seeing them.
- Talk about the Futility of Retaliating – One of the fastest ways to shut down an online bully is simply the report and block feature. It doesn’t help to engage with an abuser at all. There is no point because that’s what they want you to do.
The good thing is that more online communities are taking online bullying seriously, including gaming communities. They want to put a stop to it so that more people can enjoy playing games and participating in online activities. You can help by talking to your child about bullying in general and online specifically. Let them know what it is, how to prevent it, and how to report it when it happens.
Do you have any tips to share? Please comment below.