A Parent’s Guide to Cyberbullying: What It Is and What You Can Do

Laura Pearson believes that every student has great potential and aims to help as many as possible unlock it. Ms. Pearson and Edutude strive to find unique, creative ways for parents and educators to encourage students to be challenged, motivated and excited by learning.

Back when you were a child, bullying certainly existed. There was always a kid or two who seemed to thrive on making others feel unsafe or powerless. These days, that kind of bullying still exists — but now it’s moved online as well. Your children may be facing cyberbullying without ever hearing about it. And while the harassment may be virtual the damage can be very real.

If you want to help protect your children from this, you first need to know what exactly cyberbullying is.

Signs of Cyberbullying

There are many ways to define cyberbullying, but the Cyberbullying Research Center has a great definition. It’s the willful and repeated harm inflicted through computers, phones, and online. In many ways, that’s what regular bullying does. But by moving the harassment online, it’s much harder to escape.

How do you know if your children are subject to cyberbullying? Kidshealth.org has a list of cyberbullying signs:

  • Getting upset while on the phone or online.
  • Trying to hide what’s going on with their digital life.
  • Acting out and worse performance at school.
  • Being nervous when they realize a text or email has come in.

Bear in mind that each case is unique, so your children may not show all of these signs.

How Microaggressions Work

When thinking about how your kids might be bullied, you probably think about clear and strong examples: Getting hit, sending nude photos around, that sort of thing. But there are several forms of bullying that are both common and hard to notice at first: microassaults, microinsults, and microinvalidations. The Treehouse as a great explanation of all three microaggressions.

  • A microassault is when, instead of openly attacking, the bully uses language or images to insult the ethnicity or gender of your kids.
  • When a bully shares negative or insensitive comments about your kids’ culture or heritage rather than them directly, that’s microinsults.
  • Your children face microinvalidation when bullies disregard your kids’ troubles or challenges due to their race, gender, and so on.

The problem with microaggressions is how many don’t realize they’re doing it. Still, many bullies will use these techniques because they think they can get away with it. Bullies know they can’t use openly negative terms about someone being black, so they make comments about “non-whites” or “you people” instead. Although they’re subtle, they can really hurt your kids.

How to Help Your Children

If you’ve seen some signs or your kids report any of those microaggressions, what can you do to help? Endcyberbullying.net has some good tips for protecting your children:

  • Make sure the privacy settings on your children’s tech are set correctly. Don’t let posts go out to everyone; keep posts to close friends only.
  • Teach your kids to never post anything online when angry or sad. This can help avoid letting sensitive details out where bullies can find it.
  • Talk to your children about making their passwords secure and why they should never post personal information like addresses or phone numbers.

If you discover that cyberbullying is going on, you need to save everything. Take screencaps if you can. Evidence needs to be collected to prove anything. You also want to tell your kids never communicate or fight back. This can just make things worse. Many schools have policies against cyberbullying and out of school harassment, so check with your school’s administration.  Lastly, contact the social media site or internet service provider to report cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying Is a Real Problem

Even if you’re not as good with technology as your kids, they still need your help. You need to know what cyberbullying is and what counts as a microaggression. Then you can take a few steps to protect your kids online. After all, your children still need their parents.


Image Source: Pixabay

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