- What do I do if my child experiences bullying on social media?
- What are social media platforms doing about cyberbullying?
- Social media bullying FAQs
We all remember our childhood bullies. These days, bullying can take very different forms. As our kids spend more time online, there are no teachers or adults patrolling the playground. It’s easier than ever for bullies to hide behind usernames as they shoot their arrows. In fact, according to the Office of National Statistics, 19% of children aged 10-15 experienced social media bullying in 2019/2020. With this in mind, we’ve put together the resources you need to safeguard and support your kids both on and offline. 👾
What do I do if my child experiences bullying on social media?
Support and reassure your child
If you suspect your child is at risk, encourage them to talk to you. Dealing with social media bullying requires an adult perspective, which is why it’s vital that they let you know what’s going on.
Once your child has opened up to you about the situation, keep the conversation going. Everyone wants someone in their corner so make sure that your child knows that you’re going to take action to deal with social media bullying.
Get perspective and take positive steps
According to a recent study by Ofcom, two thirds of parents worry about their kids being bullied online. The idea of someone picking on your child will of course make you angry and upset so, take a moment to think about what you should and shouldn’t do before you act.
We’ve outlined a plan of action in 7 simple steps.
- Reassure your child and help them stay calm.
- Try to get a clear picture of what’s happening and how long it’s been going on.
- Ask your child what they want to happen next and include them in decision-making.
- Document the bullying with screenshots.
- Block the bullies as soon as possible ⛔ – this is often reported to be the most effective way to stop bullying.
- Delete offensive/distressing posts when they’ve been documented.
- Change privacy settings to ensure that your child’s accounts are secure.
When dealing with social media bullying , it’s important not to retaliate or get into arguments with people online (also known as ‘flaming’) as this does more harm than good.
Check the bullying policies and resources for the apps used
All social media apps have clear guidance on dealing with bullying. They’ll help you work out how to report, limit or block contact with specific people or groups. They’ll also help you manage who can and can’t see your child’s posts, tag or mention them online.
Check the school cyberbullying policy
Studies have shown that most bullying still occurs in person, with online platforms being used to add fuel to the fire. It’s likely that your child has met their bully face-to-face, either at school or in another setting.
If you suspect the bully is from your child’s school, check the school’s social media bullying policy and report it to the relevant staff member. All UK state schools are legally obliged to have a policy in place to deal with all forms of bullying.
What are social media platforms doing about cyberbullying?
If the idea of navigating the inner workings of your child’s TikTok account brings you out in a cold sweat, don’t worry. Most apps that are popular with UK teens have clear information pages to help you deal with bullying and harassment.
Instagram cyberbullying resources
Home of the perfect snapshot, Instagram has the following tools to keep users safe in the face of social media bullying.
- Comment warning – If someone posts something that might be offensive, they’ll be warned.
- Report – You can report things that go against the guidelines so they can be reviewed.
- Hidden words – You can filter out comments or messages that might be offensive and also create your own list of filtered words.🙈
- Tag and mention controls – These allow you to choose who can tag or mention you.
- Block – This stops someone from seeing your profile, posts or stories.
- Limit – You can limit messages and comments from people who don’t follow you or who have only recently started following you.
- Restrict - You can restrict someone’s comments on your posts so that no-one else can see them.
There’s also a detailed parents’ guide to help you discover safety features, learn the lingo and start conversations with your child about their experience on Instagram.
YouTube cyberbullying resources
YouTube has a long list of community guidelines and various harassment and cyberbullying policies.
- You can report or flag videos or behaviour that encourage harassment or bullying.
- You can report videos that have been made without consent or share personal information.
- You can report a channel if it hosts multiple videos or comments that are inappropriate or harmful.
- To check whether a video that you’ve reported is still online, you can check your report history.
TikTok cyberbullying resources
TikTok users under 16 have:
- Private accounts - Only people that your child has approved can see their content.
- No ‘Duet’ or ‘Stitch’ – This means no-one can re-use their video content in new posts.
- Limited comments – Your child can choose whether friends or no-one can comment on their videos.
Other useful tools include:
- Comment filters - These make sure that offensive comments or custom keywords are automatically hidden.📬
- Delete/block - Followers can be deleted or blocked at any time.
Social media bullying FAQs
What are examples of bullying on social media?
Bullying online can take many forms and includes:
- spreading negative rumours
- harassment via comments or messages
- setting up groups that target or exclude a specific person
- intimidation or blackmail
- repeated targeting in online games
- posting embarrassing images/videos
- posting private information
- setting up false profiles (catfishing) to trick someone
- posting on someone else’s account
Which social media platform has the most reports of cyberbullying?
YouTube users are most at risk of social media bullying (79%), followed closely by users of Snapchat (69%) and TikTok (64%).
At what age are children most at risk of being bullied online?
As kids get older, their risk of being affected by social media bullying increases. A 15 year old is twice as likely to suffer cyberbullying as an 11 year old.
What is the long term impact of social media bullying on children?
Social media bullying can affect children in different ways and has been linked to anxiety and depression in teens.
The effects of cyberbullying can be:
- Mental – feelings of embarrassment, fear and anger
- Emotional –feelings of shame and a loss of interest in things they previously enjoyed
- Physical – tiredness due to lack of sleep, stomach pain and headaches
If you have further concerns or need more detailed advice, the charity Kidscape offers an advice line for parents and carers. Bullying needn’t be a rite of passage for our kids. By taking the time to learn about the resources available, you can help keep your child safe online and keep social media bullying at bay. 🌄