Cyberbullying is a serious social issue that affects millions of teens and adolescents every single year. Like many other forms of bullying, online harassment has been linked to a number of negative outcomes in children, including depression, anxiety and decreased academic performance. In severe cases, this use of technology to harm or intimidate others can even drive children towards substance abuse and suicide. In order to protect your kids from cyberbullying, it’s imperative to understand and recognize its harrowing effects.
At Family Psychiatry of North Jersey, our mission is to provide individuals and families with all of the knowledge and tools they need to overcome emotional distress and achieve behavioral health solutions. Today, we’ll be teaching you more about cyberbullying and giving you a few key strategies to mitigate its impact on your children.
What is Cyberbullying?
Put simply, cyberbullying is the use of any form of technology to harass, threaten or embarrass a teen or adolescent. In most cases, cyberbullies will use hurtful emails, texts, online messaging or social media posts to target victims.
Cyberbullying can be invasive. In some cases, cyberbullies will even break into the accounts of their targets to post damaging messages, videos or images. For example, a cyberbully might steal another student’s Facebook password and attempt to sabotage their reputation by sending inappropriate messages to friends.
Unlike traditional bullying, cyberbullying can be much more difficult to escape from. After all, most teens (and some children) have constant access to popular online forums and messaging systems through their smartphones and mobile devices, meaning that these abusive comments can reach them 24/7 by following them home after each day of school and continuing throughout the night.
It’s also worth noting that cyberbullying can be completely anonymous, making it significantly harder to stop. When harassed by a traditional bully, your child can report their inappropriate behavior to a teacher or other school staff member, allowing disciplinary action to take place. Regrettably, it’s significantly more challenging to identify and discipline cyberbullies to rectify their harmful behavior, particularly if they make use of multiple accounts or manage to anonymously login to your child’s social accounts by discovering their password.
Note: According to a recent study from the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), 43% of teens have been the victims of cyberbullying in the last year. The NCPC also reports that cyberbullying is most common among 15- and 16-year-olds. However, as long as an adolescent has access to online communication or social media, they run some risk of experiencing cyberbullying.
Symptoms of Cyberbullying
Each child reacts to the stress and emotional pain caused by online harassment differently, but researchers at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have noted that cyberbullying makes teens and adolescents more likely to:
- Skip school
- Be unwilling to attend school
- Receive poor grades
- Have lower self-esteem
- Have more health problems
- Use alcohol and drugs
If your child exhibits any of these behaviors, they may be a victim of cyberbullying.
Protecting Your Children From Cyberbullying
The best way to defend your children from cyberbullying is to ensure that they understand the best ways to post and protect their online information. For example, your child should always create smart, strong passwords for all of their devices and social accounts. It’s also critical to tell your children that they should never share passwords, personal information, private photos or any other sensitive materials online, even when communicating with friends or family members. This includes addresses and phone numbers. Remember, cyberbullies can only work with the information and resources that your child gives them or allows them to see.
Most importantly, let your children know that they can come to you for help if they are experiencing any form of bullying or cyberbullying. That way, you can gain control of the situation early on and seek out additional assistance if needed. Fortunately, there are several helpful online cyberbullying guides and resources that you can use to show your child how to properly respond to online threats and harassment.
Seeking Professional Help for Your Distressed Child
If your child is already experiencing severe behavioral issues or emotional distress as a result of bullying or cyberbullying, then it’s critical to find them professional assistance as soon as possible. Family Psychiatry of North Jersey offers incredibly effective and affordable counseling and therapy sessions for children, teens and young adults. Our expert team of mental health experts will help your child develop coping strategies and regain control of his or her life.
Contact Family Psychiatry of North Jersey Today
If you’re interested in setting up an appointment with us or learning more about how to protect your child from cyberbullying, then don’t hesitate to call or message us today. We’re proud to support the health and happiness of your family in any way we can.