- Does your child know and understand they are a victim of social media cyberbullying?
- Examples of social media bullying
- What can you do to counter social media bullying?
Bullying is a sad everyday reality that is especially common in and around schools. With the unstoppable rise of new communication media, the tactics used by bullies have changed. The taunts are now targeted, hurtful online posts and the wedgies, mean comments. Social media bullying is the new menace now. 💻
Harassment faced on social media can have long-term emotional, psychological, and even physical effects on children. It is, by all means, a traumatic experience and has been linked to teenage depression and anxiety.
Dealing with social media bullying requires knowledge, patience, and rational thought: the kind that most kids aren’t equipped with. This is why parental intervention is so important. 👪
Studies show that only two in every ten victims inform their parents/teachers about the abuse they face online. This is because most kids are unable to differentiate between joking around or teasing and abuse perpetrated by cyber-bullies.
While there's no exact definition, cyberbullying can simply be anything that poses harm to your children’s mental, emotional or physical well-being. Social media abuse comes in many forms and even things like Whatsapp bullying are becoming more common.
Social media abuse examples ❌
Any sort of discrimination or social media harassment based on race, gender, nationality, disabilities, etc., on social media platforms, is a form of social media bullying. This behavior leads to kids developing major insecurities about things they often have no control over or are a part of their heritage.
Abuse of social media to persistently pursue contact with someone is a form of social media harassment and counts as cyberbullying.
Cyberbullies often try to harass their targets by pretending to be them on social media sites, dating apps, etc. Hacking into someone’s account to gain unauthorized access to their pictures, videos, personal contacts, etc., is also a form of cyberbullying and even a punishable offense in many countries.
- Public harassment
You might know these activities better by the name ‘trolling’, as they are often called on the internet. Trolling can be anything from making rude comments/ messages to posting content that publicly shames, harasses, or threatens someone.
Catfishing is the term used to describe pretending to be someone else on the internet (often, peers from the same age group) to lure children into meeting them, sharing sensitive information, etc. This, too, is a popular form of cyberbullying and can often lead to more serious crimes like fraud and defamation.
What can you do to counter social media bullying?
It’s best to handle social media bullying with vigilance, empathy, and discretion.
As parents, your first priority in such cases should be to ensure your child’s safety. The primary goal should be to immediately help your child disengage from the bully and then come up with an appropriate response.
A few things you can do to prevent these situations are:
- Establish effective communication 💬
Talk to your kids about cyberbullying and make sure they feel safe sharing their experiences with you. Your response to a social media bullying situation should always be primarily directed at the bully themselves.
It's only after the situation is dealt with that it's appropriate to point out your child’s mistakes and help them learn from them. This helps create a trusting environment that aids effective communication.
- Review privacy settings
It is not always wise to have social media profiles visible to everyone. What you/your child posts is personal. Nobody but the person who runs the account (and their adult guardians in some cases) should have authority over it.
You can and should, however, restrict who the posts go out to. “Private” or “friends only” settings ensure your information is only visible to trusted friends and acquaintances.
Immediately block/report the bully ⛔
Almost all social media sites now have advanced features that allow you to ‘report’ profiles, posts, messages, and even specific comments to the app’s admin team.
Once you report a bully, you'll be asked if you’d like to ‘block’ the person too. This effectively cuts all contact between you and them and can even lead to their accounts getting banned in some cases.
The one good thing about social media is that there’s always evidence. Some instances of cyberbullying can lead to legal proceedings, which might require proof on your part.
It's a good strategy to take screenshots of the abusive posts, messages, and comments before the bully can delete them. They may end up troubling your child again after a cooldown period so it's always good to have evidence. This evidence also helps in other places; like school PTA authority proceedings, etc.
Cyberbullying is an extremely poignant issue that warrants a great deal of attention. Parents and teachers need to establish effective communication and educate children and themselves about social media bullying.
The best way to deal with a cyberbully is to take appropriate authoritative action. We advise parents to work with children to regularly review and update their internet safety and privacy settings.
The only way to curb social media bullying is by being more vigilant and better informed about social media apps and their protocols.