How do I know if my child is being bullied online?

Published: Tuesday 18th October 2016 by Courtney Farrow

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To help school and home life run as smoothly as possible for children, HEY Today and KCOM are supporting an eight-week cyberbullying awareness campaign run by Internet Matters.

Each week, we’ll share tips and advice on a unique topic, with this particular article focusing on the telltale signs of cyberbullying.

Young people that experience cyberbullying are often reluctant to tell their parents and guardians. Teenagers could be embarrassed, whilst younger children may not know what to do or how to explain to grown-ups what is happening to them.

That is why it’s vital for parents to recognise the warning signs of online victimisation from the very early stages. It is also important to note that the cyberbullying could be happening on top of other forms of face-to-face harassment.

This means that many children who come home to escape the humiliation have to then deal with it in the comfort of their own homes. Here are some typical actions and events that might suggest your child or teenager is being bullied online.

Emotional signs of cyberbullying

Like with any form of bullying, a victim’s emotions can be severely affected. Watch out for abnormal behaviour, such as becoming withdrawn or shying away from friends and family.

Alternatively, maybe they’re extremely temperamental or agitated after using their computer or mobile device?

When instant messages or text messages come through, they could become anxious or on edge, which is a major indicator of unwanted contact.

Cyberbullying can also cause depression amongst young people, so keep your eye out for low moods, as well as unusually aggressive or uncharacteristic behaviour.

Academic signs of cyberbullying

Again, cyberbullying can be happening alongside other forms of abuse and victimisation. If the bullies are at school, your child may lose interest in lessons, or even refuse to attend at all.

If you suspect your child may be suffering, be sure to discreetly contact the school to check up on their grades and ask if they are attentive in classes.

A teacher may have picked up on strange behaviour too, so it’s always good to get a second opinion and know all the facts.

Social signs of cyberbullying

A lot of young people spend their spare time on mobile devices, social media networks and gaming platforms.

A key reaction to being cyberbullied is withdrawal from technology, so if you notice that your child has changed their computer or phone usage, be sure to talk to them in an open and thoughtful manner.

Other red flags include a general change in social behaviour, such as a switch of friends, a lack of interest in once-loved hobbies or activities, odd sleeping or eating habits, and possibly even self-harm or suicide threats.

In the event that cyberbullying is already occurring, please read our article on the top 10 anti-bullying apps, which help with everything from future prevention to recovery.

We also recommend taking a screenshot of the offending messages before blocking the sender’s number or social media accounts, as visual proof may be required if the situation continues.

Finally, if you know a parent, child or teacher that could benefit from this information, please share it with them. Together we can keep children safe and happy at home and school.

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Published: Tuesday 18th October 2016 by Courtney Farrow

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