Cyberbullying is a modern method of intimidation which has become increasingly common due to the popularity of social media platforms over the last decade. Cyberbullying can cause serious emotional harm, especially to children when they are unsure how to respond or handle their feelings. Being a victim of cyberbullying can have long-standing implications on the self-esteem and confidence of a child, often creating barriers to adulthood.
Cyberbullying is a form of bullying or harassment which uses electronic means. There are many forms of cyberbullying including harassment, exclusion and cyberstalking. Examples of online harassment include posting rumours, sharing sensitive information, making threats, and blackmailing others. Generally, cyberbullying refers to ‘repeated behaviour’ with intent to harm and most commonly takes place on social media websites. The site with the most reports of social media is Instagram, followed by Facebook and Snapchat according to Broadband search.
Cyberbullying is more widespread than you’d think, nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online. According to YouGov, you’re more likely to be cyberbullied by a total stranger. Four in ten (44%) of those who’ve experienced cyberbullying say it came from someone they’d never spoken to online or in-person before. Shockingly, one in four (23%) 18 to 24-year olds who’ve experienced cyberbullying say they have less confidence engaging in real-life discussions because of their experience online.
Victims of cyberbullying often lack the confidence to handle situations like this on their own, due to a result of them being caught off guard and being unfamiliar with it. Therefore, providing emotional support can often be extremely effective, reassuring the victim that they are not alone in their issue. Generally, the best advice is to reassure them that bullies’ comments rarely contain anything factual, they are simply the result of their personal insecurities. Unplugging from social media can also be a viable option, with many other negative implications being linked to social media such as depression, insecurities, stress, and sleep deprivation. An interesting article on this can be found here: https://medium.com/naturehub/toxic-social-media-7-signs-you-need-to-take-an-instacrap-part-i-84382989c86f
To prevent the acts of cyberbullying from continuing, if they’re a classmate, it’s a good idea to have a discussion with teachers and school staff. This way, they can intervene and explain to the bully that their actions will not be tolerated. School policy will often dictate how exactly the situation is handled, and cyberbullying has become an increasingly present topic in policy recently
It’s important to note that the majority of children will not tell their parents or teachers if they’re being bullied. Parents must be diligent and notice changes in their behaviour. Signs of a child being bullied can vary depending on their personality, but they may show an unwillingness to go to school, have trouble sleeping and have changes in their typical behaviour. Spotting these signs can require patience and time, but the worst thing a parent can do is react with anger, disappointment, or hostility as that will often lead to the child isolating themselves further.
Our BehaviourWatch platform is perfect for safeguarding children, take a look at our webinar to learn more: https://eduspot.co.uk/behaviourwatch-webinar/
Some other useful content can be found here: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/online-mental-health/about-online-mental-health/