Experts are raising the alarm on the increasing number of cyberbullying cases being reported. With more teens preferring to do most of their communication digitally, especially through social media, it’s no surprise that cyberbullying is becoming a growing problem.
According to statistics, 37% of students report being cyberbullied while almost 30% of them say that it has happened more than once. Because of this, it is vital that parents know how to spot the warning signs as well as how to effectively respond to cyberbullying incidents.
Here are 7 things you can do to help your teen if they’re cyberbullied:
1. Discuss the incident and listen to your teen.
When your teen comes to you to report being cyberbullied, listen to them. Don’t scold or assign blame but ask open-ended questions to find out as much as you can about the incident. Your teen is likely to be feeling humiliated and attacked so empathize, and assure them that what’s happening to them is wrong and reinforce that no one deserves to be treated that way.
2. Don’t overreact.
It’s tough to realize that your teen is the victim of bullying or harassment. However, no matter how angry you feel, this isn’t the time to overact. You might be tempted to protect your teen by taking away their phone or computer but that will only cut off their communication, leaving them feeling isolated. A better way to respond is to help your teen find a healthy balance with social media.
3. Instruct your teen not to respond.
Ask your teen not to respond to the cyberbully no matter what they say or how much it hurts. Cyberbullies often look for a reaction from their victims and responding can often fuel the fire. A simple, “Stop it,” or “Cut it out,” should be all the response your teen gives, if at all.
4. Gather evidence of the cyberbullying.
Before reporting the incident, you’ll need to gather proof that the cyberbullying happened. Ask your teen not to delete any texts, social media posts, and messages, emails, tweets, etc. Help them print these or take screenshots and keep them as evidence.
5. Report the incident.
Teach your teen to stand up to the cyberbully by reporting the incident. You can report it to the school principal or counselor since there’s a chance that the bullying might also be happening at school. Additionally, if the cyberbullying occurred on social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook, ask your teen to report it to them as well.
6. Ask your teen to cut off communication where possible.
When dealing with a cyberbully, one of the things you should do is make it as difficult as possible for them to contact your teen. One way to do this is for your teen to block them on email, social media, etc. If this doesn’t stop them, your teen can go ahead and delete his accounts and open new ones.
7. Seek support or counseling.
Cyberbullying is a huge issue and the effects can be devastating including depression and anxiety. Instead of minimizing the issue, consider taking your teen to a counselor or health professional, especially if you notice them showing worrying changes in behavior e.g. becoming withdrawn, changes in sleeping patterns, etc.
Teens who have been cyberbullied also need a social support system comprised of family and friends to talk to and help them recover.
Knowing that they’re not alone and that they can count on your support will give your teen the strength they need to deal with cyberbullying and get past it.
About the Author
Cindy Price is proud wife and mom to three teenagers. She would like to say she’s a parenting expert but she knows better than to do that. As a parent educator and writer for over 15 years, she’s well-aware how quickly parenting practices evolve. Family is her greatest joy and she hopes her writing can help make families stronger.