Well although it’s past already, October was national bullying prevention month. Unlike the playground and school bullying of yesterday, today’s bullying doesn’t allow you to feel safe at home and the ease to be anonymous can make the threats and fear much worse.
Welcome to Cyberbullying. Through the use of social media, text messages, and email….cyberbullying is the nightmare that too many kids are having to deal with.
According to the Pew Research Center, 59% of U.S. teens have experienced cyberbullying. That’s a big number! On this podcast, we are going to discuss some of the effects of cyberbullying and how we as parents can help stop it.
Before we dive into Cyberbullyingg I want to introduce you to our sponsor of this podcast, the app Bark.
Bark is an app that monitors texts, YouTube, email, and 24 social media platforms and apps. It looks for interactions that are perceived as harmful and detects them. Cyberbullying is one of the things bark looks for, but also drugs/alcohol, sex, mental health, suicide, etc. Once something is detected it notifies you the parent via text and email. This avoids you having to go through all of your child’s messages and posts which can be extremely time-consuming but also can feel like an invasion of privacy. Bark monitors everything and simply notifies you when there is something of concern.
Bark is offering Dad University listeners a special 1 free month and if you like it there is a small monthly fee…it is so worth it. Bark also works with schools for free which is awesome. You can visit bark.us/daduniversity and get your 1 month free. I’ll also link it in the show notes.
When I was growing up, kids would spread false rumors, name call, or receive physical threats. And if you were bullied like this it felt horrible. So you take that bully behavior and you amplify it, add the ability to do it 24/7, add anonymity, and then you have cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying brings harassment to another level, outing people by sharing private information, excluding someone from online discussions and then talking about them, to even setting up fake profiles just to harass someone.
The effects of cyberbullying are pretty troublesome. Similar to traditional bullying, some of the effects include
alcohol or drug use
Kids who are cyberbullied often feel that they can’t escape it. The bullying is etched in history online and it seems it will last forever. They feel lonely, powerless, and they will often lose sleep because of it.
So how can we prevent or stop cyberbullying? As a parent, we need to make sure our children are aware of how wrong any type of bullying is. So, of course, we absolutely want to make sure our child is not doing the bullying.
Another important part is that children understand that being a witness of cyberbullying and doing nothing about it, is also bad. Kids need to feel confident enough to intervene and let their peers know that it is not ok to cyberbully someone else.
While there are currently no federal laws on cyberbullying, state laws are taking shape and schools are becoming more involved as they realize the escalating problem. But we can’t always leave it up to the law.
Here are some additional ways to stop cyberbullying:
1) Know what your child is doing online – You need to be aware of the apps they are using and how they interact with those apps. Make it easy on yourself and use a service like our sponsor Bark. Monitor what they are doing online.
2) Take it seriously – Be sure to investigate if something is going on. Don’t minimize what your child could be experiencing. Catching these situations early is going to make it easier to stop.
3) Look for warning signs – Stopbullying.gov says to look out for changes in device usage patterns, watch for emotional responses to their device, they may open/close new accounts, or maybe they.
4) Build resiliency in your child – Every child is different and as such, things affect each child differently. One way to reduce how something impacts your child is to teach them to be resilient.
This can be mental/emotional resilience like boosting their self-esteem and self-acceptance, or physical resilience like your learning to defend themselves or feel stronger physically. Both emotional and physical resilience is important for children.
It doesn’t look like cyberbullying is going away anytime soon but there is work going on to prevent and fight it. Instagram just launched an anti-bullying feature called Restrict which allows only you and the person who posted to see their post. It’s a small step but at least it’s a step. The big steps will come from us parents, educators, and lawmakers that make it clear it won’t be tolerated. Also, companies like our sponsor Bark, who is working hard to protect children.
Guys be sure to support Bark and get a valuable service: Go to bark.us/daduniversity to sign up for your free month.
We would love to hear from you. Has your child experienced any Cyberbullying? What did you do to stop it?