Tormented Through Technology
IN ADOLESCENT HEALTH
Cyberbullies may not steal lunches or confront their peers between classes, but they do have access to a tool that can make bullying much easier: the internet.
When you think about bullying, what comes to mind? Getting stuffed in lockers? How about being tripped in the parking lot? Today, your child can be bullied as she simply looks at her smartphone.
While the act of bullying may seem dramatic when it’s done online, its impact can have huge repercussions on the lives of others. In fact, it has been shown that kids who are cyberbullied are more likely to:
- Develop low self-esteem
- Experience in-person bullying
- Have more mental and physical health problems
- Receive poor grades
- Skip school
- Use alcohol and drugs
A Virtual Threat
While the internet and social media aren’t to blame, they do provide bullies with a way to reach their victims 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An estimated 15 percent of high school students have been electronically bullied in the past year.
After all, more than 84 percent of Americans use the internet daily. And adolescents are more likely to be attracted to social media since 71 percent of teenagers report being active on more than one social media platform. This opens up several lines of communication that can be hard to avoid. Plus, anything that’s posted could last forever.
Fortunately there are things parents can do to help prevent cyberbullying, including:
Post a lookout—Make sure you know which social platforms your child is using. While you may not be able to log on, “friend” or “follow” them, you can get trusted family friends to watch for any bully-like behavior.
Bring it up—Talk with your kids about cyberbullying and give them a chance to discuss it with you. Take this time to remind your kids that anything posted to the internet can be saved and shared.
Establish rules—Limit smartphone/screen use so your kids can get some time away from the world of social media.
Record any proof—If you do stumble across any cyberbullying, save some evidence so you can prove that your child is being bullied.
Who to Tell?
If your child is being bullied online, it may be necessary to report the action to the proper people. Whether that’s the online service provider, schools or law enforcement depends on the severity of the bullying.
To give you a better idea, you report to:
• Online service providers if the bully’s actions violate the terms and conditions of the website and blocking doesn’t work.
• The schools if the perpetrator is a fellow student or is somehow infringing on the victim’s ability to attend classes or study. Many schools have a zero-tolerance bullying policy that could result in the bully getting kicked off campus.
• Law enforcement if there are any threats of violence, child pornography or stalking involved in the bullying.
For more information about Dayton Children’s, visit our website.