Cyberbullying is bullying with the use of digital technologies. It can take place on social media, messaging platforms, gaming platforms and mobile phones. It is repeated behaviour, aimed at scaring, angering or shaming those who are targeted.Bullying can have detrimental and long-term consequences for children.Along with physical consequences (sleep disturbances, headaches), children can experience emotional and mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, which can lead to poor school performance.Children and teenagers now spend more time on the Internet. Keeping in touch with friends is a great incentive in life and a way to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. But there are risks and dangers here. About 150 million children aged 13-15, i.e. half of the world's pupils, report that they are bullied by peers. One in ten children experiences this abuse daily or weekly.
Tips for parents to ensure safety for their children
- Tell your children about cyberbullying. By knowing what cyberbullying is, your child will be able to recognize it more easily.
- Talk to your children frankly and regularly. The more you talk to your children about bullying, the easier it will be for them to tell you if they see or experience it. Inquire daily about their time at school and their time online. Ask not only about their lessons and activities, but also about their feelings.
- Help your child become a role model in the fight against cyberbullying. There are three participants in cyberbullying: victim, cyberbullying subject and eyewitness. Even if children are not victims of cyberbullying, they can play an important role in preventing cyberbullying by being respectful and kind to their peers. If a child witnesses cyberbullying, he or she can stand up for a victim, provide support and/or publicly condemn such behaviour.
- Help your child develop self-confidence. Encourage your child to sign up for their favourite activities, join their favourite activities in your community. This will also help build trust, as well as create a group of friends with common interests.
- Be a role model for them. Show your child the importance of being kind and respectful towards other children and adults by doing the same with people around you, including standing up for the person who has been abused. Children look at their parents and often project their behaviour into their own actions.
Become part of their online experience. Familiarize with online platforms your child uses. Warn her/him about the various risks that they may encounter on the Internet.
How to recognize if a child is exposed to cyberbullying
Observe carefully. Take a closer look at the emotional state of children, as some of them may have difficulty expressing their anxiety.
Signs which should attract your attention:
- Fear of going to school or going out into the yard
- A child is anxious and/or excited
- Few friends at school or outside of school
- Sudden loss of friends
- Loss or disappearance of clothes, electronics or other personal items
- Poor performance
- A child often asks for money
- A child skips classes or calls from school asking for permission to go back home
- A child is trying to stay close to adults
- Poor sleep and nightmares
- Suffering from headaches, stomachaches or other physical ailments
- Bad mood after spending time on the Internet
- A child becomes unusually reserved, especially when it comes to online experience
Tips for children
- Be polite and kind when being online. Support your peers by sending them positive messages, a smile or a high-five symbol.
- Check your settings and your passwords: is your password 12345? Did you share this with a friend? Who can see what you post online? When was the last time you revised your privacy settings?
- Talk about it. If you feel that you are being bullied, that you are a victim of cyberbullying, contact someone you trust.
- Show support. If you think you've seen someone being bullied, don't be silent about it. Address that person and show your support. Your words can make a difference.
- If you feel that your behaviour towards someone falls under the bullying category, you can make changes. Stop bullying. Stop and ask someone for support. Be kind, be a hero.
- Before accepting a friend request, you should take a look at a profile and try to find out who a person is. Remember, sometimes people pretend to be someone they are not and it is difficult to know if they are telling the truth.
- Do you have mutual friends? Are you from the same city? Don't feel it necessary to accept random friend requests. Check your privacy settings so that people you don't know won't be able to see any information you don't want them to see.
- Do not spread rumors or share harmful or embarrassing stories or photos. What may seem like a harmless joke to one person can be deeply hurtful to others.
- Think twice before pressing “Submit” button, especially if you are upset or angry. Once you've shared a message, photo, or video, it's hard to control what happens to it. It is almost impossible to undo this action.
And remember that you have the right to privacy just like everyone else. You cannot log into other people's accounts or use their phones without their permission.
Last update: 22.02.2021