More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyber bullying and more than 60 percent of teens surveyed have reported being bullied or were the bully online.
Like bullying in real life, cyber bullying is consistent harassment that can cause a person to become seriously alarmed, embarrassed, feel threatened, annoyed or hurt. It occurs via digital devices like smartphones, tablets, texts, apps, social media, forums and gaming (to name a few).
For teens, it’s especially difficult to be a part of and can even lead to suicide. If you’ve seen the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why,” it’s a sad yet very real example of bullying that leads to suicide. With the easy access to the digital world, and the fact that more than 80 percent of teens have their own tech devices (and 95 percent have their own cell phone), cyber bullying can be 24/7.
Cyber bullying can take numerous forms, and children can react in very different ways to being bullied. It’s important to know how someone is cyber bullied, if your child is being bullied and what to do if they are.
8 types of cyber bullies
Cyber bullying can take shape in many forms online via text, photos or videos.
Flaming – online fights typically via emails, instant messages or chat rooms that include the exchange of angry or rude comments
Denigration – putting mean messages online through email, messaging, chat rooms or websites set up to make fun of someone
Exclusion – intentionally leaving someone out of a group including on instant messages, sites or other online group activities
Outing – Sharing secrets online about someone that can include private info, photos and videos
Trickery – tricking someone into revealing personal information and then sharing that information with others.
Impersonation – pretending to be someone else when sending or posting mean or false messages online
Harassment – repeatedly sending malicious messages to an individual online
Cyberstalking – continuously harassing or denigrating someone, including threats of physical harm
Is your child being cyber bullied?
Often, if a child is being cyber bullied, they may not say anything because they are embarrassed.
Signs your child is being cyber bullied include:
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Being excluded from social events
- Change in appearance
- Lower self-esteem
- Not allowing adults access to their technology devices
- Increased anger, depression, etc.
What to do if your child is a victim of cyber bullying
No matter what, do not engage with the bully online; it can only make matters worse. Instead, if your child is being bullied online:
- Take screenshots of the bullying and report it to school or law enforcement
- Report abuse online — social media platforms have the opportunity to “report abuse” and notate why it is considered abuse. This can result in the bully being removed from the platforms where they are bullying
- Encourage your child to talk to someone they trust at school like a teacher or another adult
- Talk to your child and remind them they don’t have to be a victim and if they hurt, they can get help and feel better