Cyberbullying is a form of bullying happening online. It has become increasingly common, especially among teens. In this day and time, nearly every teen has been provided with a smartphone or a tablet. Most importantly this has become a necessity for them in order to be in contact with his class and teachers.
Cyberbullying is when someone, typically a teenager, harasses others on the internet, particularly on social media sites. Harmful bullying behaviour can include posting rumours, threats, sexual remarks, victims’ personal information. Bullying is identified by repeated behaviour and an intent to harm.
I have recently heard countless reports of abuse happening especially on WhatsApp group chat created for classes to be connected during the lock-down.
Cyber-bullying is very harmful to young ones. Learning how to protect yourself from it can be a great opportunity to develop skills for the future.
I created a checklist for your family. It serves a reminder of the steps to take when confronted with cyber-bullying. You can download it below.
What You Needs to Know about Teen Cyberbullying
A cyber-bully, just like a usual bully,is a person with low self-worth. They feel small but don’t want to have to face it in front of other people. They don’t know how to feel good about themselves. This is why they decide instead to make another person feel smaller than them. They need to attract the attention of the people around them to feel important. Often time means that they don’t get it at home.
They just don’t know how to attract it in a positive way.
They pick on someone and having the other feel small makes them feel big. But it is only a temporary fix as they still don’t feel good about themselves. They just have the feeling they are better than the one they are bullying, at least in appearance. The aim for them is to make other people join in harming another person. This way they feel less lonely. They feel strong like they are now part of the elite of their micro-society.
The main difference now between the cyber-bully and the bully is the mean of communication. A cyber-bully will use social media and communication apps or website instead of direct contact. The most common way this is happening these days is during Zoom calls or in WhatsApp group chat. These chats are particularly harmful as they are not monitored by any adults.
In addition to that, they are also used after school hours. This means the bullying continues even after the school day is over. Furthermore, this is happening while your teen is in the comfort of his home.
The Impact on your Teen
Teenagers are more impacted by cyberbullying than any generation before had been by bullying before. The fact they are being bullied, while they are at home, makes it impossible for them to feel safe.
Home is the place any child should feel safe and protected from harm. This is where you have your parent’s love and support. It’s also where you have your personal space to be and express yourself. This is not possible anymore nowadays for teenagers. They are being harassed endlessly and cry themselves to sleep reading mean messages they get on social media.
There is no safe space anymore. It never stops for them. They are unable to relax and sleep properly at night. Instead, they keep looking at their phone waiting for the next insult to come. And they shiver anytime they hear a notification. This is a cycle of anxiety that can lead to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Disorder Syndrome).
Solutions against Cyberbullying
When it comes to protecting our children there is no limitation of solutions as long as we are ready to have a difficult conversation with them. It starts with rules around the use of the smartphone or tablet.
You need to be able to access the phone and the messages exchanged in group chats. This is important for you to see how they communicate with each other. If you notice your child is being bullied, contact the parent of the bully directly and show them the messages. If your child is the bully, now is the time to have a conversation with them regarding their motive for behaving this way.
The phone has to be left out of their bedroom before they go to sleep. It is not good for them to keep looking at their phone at night time. You can learn more about it in this article. The evening is meant for relaxing and preparing to sleep. Smartphones are preventing this from happening.
Check the apps they have installed on their phones. More importantly, familiarise yourself with the ones that are harmful.
What Your Teen Needs to Know
Teens that are the typical bully target of choice generally show signs of low self-esteem or shyness. This is why the first thing to do is helping them believing in themselves more. Here are some guidelines to give to your teen when faced with cyber-bullying.
The very first thing your teen should do when confronted with cyberbullying is to talk about it to someone who will listen and protect them. Often time they feel embarrassed to tell on someone. The bully’s impact on them making them feel powerless, they have the state of mind that nothing can be done.
Make sure they know they can tell you and that you will make it stops.
As I explained before, the first need of a bully is to feel important by getting attention. When you remove your attention, you remove their power. Bullies don’t want to have to work hard to get what they want. They want it all right now. By not giving them a reaction, your teen is showing their own strength. It breaks their “victim” label. Teen cyberbullying is the same.
Taking a break away from provocation and learning to take a step back is a great skill your teen can develop in this situation. This will increase their sense of self-worth.
Do Not Reply
As hard as it can feel, your teen needs to resist the urge to respond to the provocation. This is a hard one. We all want to retaliate when we get insulted. But again, this gives the power away to
the bully as they are getting exactly what they were aiming for.
Being stronger and higher than that will help your teen feel better about themselves and develop their resilience. Cyberbullying will eventually stop.
Report the Bully
Most teen cyberbullying perpetrators act like they do because they feel powerful and believe they are in their right to do what they do. One of the teens I’m currently coaching reported to me that the bully would reply they just can’t take a joke. Bullies know what they are doing is wrong. But they are not in space where they want to be called out for it.
In addition, a simple and efficient way to show them there are rules to respect when communicating with others is to report their harmful comments and insults. Most social media and communication apps have the option for the teen to report abuse. When this is not enough, we move on to the next step. Teen cyberbullying is a worldwide issue that is taken very seriously.
Block the Bully
When someone is harassing your teen on social media, they have the option to block them. Now it is important for them to do it. First, it will prevent the bully from reaching out to your teen again as they will not be able to send them messages or even see their profiles. Moreover, taking this step will encourage your teen to feel safe. This is why I insist you make your teen do it. After that, they will know them than they can protect themselves too.
This step of them stepping up and blocking someone who’s harmful to them will make them feel confident in that moment and for the future that they can protect themselves and don’t have to be victimised.
Be Safe Online
Obvious and yet often looked over, an important rule of online safety is that your teen needs to keep their password secret. They should never share or hint their passwords to their contacts. In addition, it’s also important that they change their password every three months minimum to ensure their account’s privacy is secured.
This will teach them how to become responsible for their own online security.
And don’t forget to download your Tenn CyberBullying Protection checklist. It will help your family to remember how to act when threatened by a cyber-bully. You can grab it using the link below.
To sum up, bullies are really just people with low self-worth trying to look big. Cyber-bullying is very harmful to your children and can lead to long-term damages. But there are ways you can protect them. It’s important they know you’re there to help. Teaching them how to respond to this situation will be a life-long valuable lesson. This is also the opportunity for them to learn to deal with life’s adversity and develop resilience. To help them develop this resilience, check out htis other blog article: “The Subtle Art of Resilience”