According to the website, Cyber Bullying Statistics, online bullying is increasingly common among teens and adolescents. In fact, over half of all teens have either been bullied online or they bullied someone else. In addition, about 1 in 3 adolescents have experienced threats through cyberbullying, and half of those bullied never tell their parents.
Because of the increasing instances of online bullying, we at Upside Therapy wanted to address this troubling issue. But first, what is cyber-bullying?
As it turns out, cyber-bullying can take many forms, including:
- Sending aggressive or mean messages to a person’s phone or computer
- Using social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat to post embarrassing photos or rumors about someone
- Hacking into a person’s account to post things, pretending to be them
- Posting false information about another person, intending to hurt him or her
- Spreading lies about a person’s sexual encounters, or posting sexually provocative things about someone to ruin his or her reputation
While these messages may contain actual threats, they don’t have to suggest violence in order to be damaging. In a new study coming out of the U.K., researchers showed the dramatic effects of long-term, persistent bullying. While these researchers studied bullying “IRL,” (In Real Life for you non-techy types), we think that some of their findings could translate to bullying online. In this study, researchers followed the lives of 7771 people for decades, and what they found was a strong correlation between people who had been persistently bullied as kids, and symptoms of: depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and even poor physical health. Astonishingly, these individuals were also less likely to have advanced degrees, high-paying jobs, or satisfying romantic relationships, suggesting that the effects of bullying extend far into adulthood.
So what can you as a parent do to help your child steer clear of this troublesome trend?
Talk To Your Teen
Explain what cyber-bullying is and make a rule that your teen is not allowed to spread mean or embarrassing messages about anyone else. Don’t be afraid to take away his or her phone and computer if you find that she is engaging in these behaviors. Let your teen know that even if done in jest, these behaviors won’t be tolerated in your home.
Encourage Openness In Your Home
At the same time, make sure your teen understands that if he or she is the victim of cyber-bullying, he will not get in trouble if he tells you what is happening. Provide an open line of communication between you and your teen, and let him know that being bullied is never their fault.
Teach Tech Savvy Safety Skills
Teach your kids how to block people online, and to refrain from giving their passwords to friends. Also, share with them the golden rule of online communication: If whatever they are about to post is something that they wouldn’t want the whole world to know, don’t post it! Explain that what is posted online stays online, even if the website promises complete anonymity, or it is “deleted” later.
We know that parenting in this information age can be tricky! If you would like to talk more about preventing or managing your child’s experiences with cyber-bullying, contact us. We are here to help!