It can really tear you up inside when your child is intentionally harmed and cyberbullying is at the top of the list. This form of hatred delves into something greater than physical harm. It is a dangerous manipulation of the psyche that has resulted in some dire circumstances for preyed upon children and their families.
Figuring out if your child is being cyberbullied on social media can hopefully prevent an unwanted situation.
Talk the Talk
Asking your child how their day went sometimes feels like pulling teeth, but tactfully maneuvering the subject of cyberbullying when you suspect something’s up is downright exhausting. That said, there are ways to communicate with your child effectively regarding their online experiences.
A direct approach can be attempted and if your child is one who responds well to that, you’re one of the lucky ones. If this doesn’t work, simply begin a conversation about the different kinds of bullying that exist, because they may not even know they are a victim.
This includes passive aggressive remarks such as “you’re pretty, but your clothes are ridiculous,” being continually shut out of group chats, or being the repeated butt of a joke. Other bullying is even more direct, ranging from rumors, humiliating pictures/videos, fake websites or profiles dedicated to degrading your child, or outright obscenities and threats.
The Back Door Approach
Other kids may be too embarrassed or fearful to admit their situation, which means the back door approach is your best bet. Find a way to trigger a response from them, one that provokes questions or encourages them to admit they’re being bullied.
Casually bring up an article you read on cyberbullying or leave it in their path to ‘discover’ are both helpful for children who are introverted or embarrassed. You might also ask a relative your child looks up to to talk to your son or daughter and get to the heart of the matter.
Staying involved with your child’s activities without being too much of a ‘helicopter parent’ is a fine line. However, through short questions and not too much prying, you should be able to get a gauge on how they are getting along. However, there are some telltale signs that may arise which indicate that they are being bullied on social media. These include:
Maybe It’s Your Child
It’s hard to admit that your child is to blame for something. But when it comes to cyberbullying, there are instances where your child is the instigator and then becomes the victim.
Be sure and talk to your child about online etiquette, and address possible situations where they may be at fault. Let them know that it is okay to realize their mistakes and give them tools to rectify difficult relationship challenges. An apology can quell a long drawn out online war that might not end well otherwise.
Dealing With It
If you do determine that your child is being bullied on social media, there are several different ways to go about handling it:
Keeping your child out of harms way is your ultimate goal while they are in their vulnerable years. Remind them not to blame themselves and make sure you are always there for support. Build their confidence each day and spend as much time with them as you can.
Tara Heath is a mother and journalist in California. Never one to sit passively when her children are being bullied, she is passionate about helping other parents take action, as well. Follow her on Twitter!
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