By: Haley Zapal
Cyberbullying is prevalent among today’s kids. More than 60% of tweens and 70% of teens have experienced it, either as a victim, bully, or witness. Unfortunately, many parents may not realize just how different it is from the schoolyard bullying they remember from growing up, and they may not know how to stop cyberbullying today. With 24/7 access to their phones, kids today can tease, harass, and threaten peers around the clock and from any location – being at home doesn’t mean you’re safe from bullies anymore.
Because of this, it’s important for parents and kids to talk openly and honestly about cyberbullying. There’s a lot to learn, and knowing how to identify all the different ways it can happen will keep your family prepared. Bark has assembled some key facts about cyberbullying to use as conversation starters for you and your kids.
The more you’re prepared, the better you’ll be able to stop cyberbullying if it happens.
1. Cyberbullying is defined as “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.” Common types of cyberbullying include harassment, cyberstalking, catfishing, and trolling.
Discussing exactly what cyberbullying is with your child is a good way to help them understand all the different ways it can happen. Review the types of cyberbullying together and then take time to come up with your own examples of what each looks like. You and your child will be better able to combat cyberbullying when you’re both able to easily recognize the signs.
2. While there is no federal law against cyberbullying, every state except Alaska and Wisconsin has specific references to cyberbullying in their anti-bullying laws.
Getting familiar with your applicable cyberbullying laws is an important activity to do with your child. Not only will it help you gain a greater understanding of what is and isn’t punishable by law, but it will also help your child grasp the severity of cyberbullying and the kinds of consequences bullies can expect to face.
3. Cyberbullying victims are more likely to consider suicide.
Victims of cyberbullying often experience low self-esteem, loneliness, and feelings of worthlessness, and these feelings can lead to more serious issues, like depression and suicidal ideation. Talking with your child about suicide can be difficult, but Bark has put together a guide that can help.
4. More kids have experienced cyberbullying on Instagram than on any other platform at 42%, with Facebook following close behind at 37%. Snapchat ranked third at 31%.
Discovering where cyberbullying most often takes place online will help you and your child take the necessary actions to prevent it from happening. Allowing the Bark app to monitor for signs of cyberbullying will give you more peace of mind, knowing you’ll be alerted if it becomes an issue. Each week, Bark sends tens of thousands of alerts about severe cyberbullying to parents just like you.
5. Victims suffer in silence for fear adults will restrict digital access if they speak up.
Knowing this, the most important thing to do is to remind your child they will not be punished if they tell you they’re being cyberbullied. Parents who decide to take their child’s phone away after they’ve been cyberbullied send the message that the victim is to blame. Consider blocking or reporting the bully instead.
6. Adolescents who engaged in cyberbullying were more likely to be perceived as “popular” by their peers.
This shocking and unfortunate statistic means your child may be tempted to cyberbully to gain favor with peers. In addition to letting your child know that being a bully is never okay, Bark encourages you to reference this guide on what to do when your child bullies.
7. Victims of cyberbullying may exhibit warning signs.
Although many tweens and teens are afraid to report cyberbullying, they may exhibit behavior that indicates they’re struggling. This is especially true of kids who are marginalized in one way or another. Some common signs your child may be experiencing cyberbullying include:
- Discontinued use of their smartphones
- Getting emotional while using their smartphone, or afterward
- Being secretive or avoiding discussions about their online lives
- Avoiding school or social activities
- Changes in grades, mood, behavior, sleep, or appetite
If you notice these behaviors, it’s best to sit down with your child and calmly ask if they’ve experienced problems with cyberbullying. Remind them of how important they are and reassure them you will not intervene without their consent.
8. More than half of teens have witnessed cyberbullying on social media.
Some kids assume they will be seen as tattletales if they report bullying, while others are afraid they may become the next victims if they intervene. Chances are your child will witness cyberbullying at some point. Remember to communicate with your child.
9. Bark monitors digital activities and keeps you informed.
Cyberbullying can be a frightening and complicated issue for children and parents. Fortunately, Bark can help. Bark is an award-winning monitoring service that sends text and email alerts to keep you informed. Bark monitors texts, email, chat, YouTube, and 24 plus social media platforms for signs of not only cyberbullying, but also suicidal ideation, online predators, depression, and more.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. What a great time to sign up for Bark! Don’t wait!