Here are nine steps that you can take to help your child if they're struggling with a cyberbully.

Being mocked and bullied online can be particularly hurtful to a child, who may feel as if there is no escape from the ridicule. But, how can you tell if your child is being cyberbullied? Keep reading to learn more about the nine steps parents can take when your child is being cyberbullied.

The warning signs of cyberbullying are similar to those of face-to-face bullying, however, the definition of cyberbullying means that hateful or aggressive behavior occurs around time spent online.

A clear indicator that your child may be experiencing cyber bullying is a change in your child’s habits when they are online, such as:

  • Spending much less time on their phone
  • Depressed, angry or disruptive moods 
  • Asking you to block emails or phone numbers 
  • Shutting down their social media accounts 

If you are certain that your child is a victim, it’s time for you to get involved to protect your child and learn when you should get the school involved in cyberbullying.

9 Steps Parents Can Take if Your Child is Cyberbullied

  1. Start by talking.
    While getting all the details sounds like a good idea, your child may not feel entirely comfortable disclosing everything to you. In fact, your questions may feel like an interrogation. Instead, start by talking about your own online experiences, weaving in the good and the bad. 

    Or, recruit one of their peers or someone they look up to. Enlisting the help of a trusted peer can help your child to know that trolls and cyberbullies can happen to anyone.
  2. Teach your child online etiquette.
    One of the best ways to prevent cyberbullying is to make sure that kids know what it is & what it looks like. They should understand what is and isn’t appropriate to say and do online, and that social media rules are important too. 

    Make sure they understand that they, too, must respect others online.
  3. Don’t stalk their social media.
    While it may seem like the best course of action, going behind your child’s back will erode their trust in you. Instead, continue the discussion by getting them to open up about their online activities, like discussing which popular apps they use and what they like about them. 

    You can draw a response from comments like, “You should share that photo” or “Let’s see if your friend is online now.” Discovering more about your teen's screen time and cell phone use will help you discover what they're reluctant to discuss and what makes them anxious.
  4. Limit online access.
    If you see clear behavioral changes around the time your child is online, like anxiety or depression, you may want to limit their access. Set clear rules for screen time, including what to do when problems or uncomfortable situations arise. Using a parental control app can be helpful in monitoring your child's internet use.
  5. Recruit online friends.
    As we all know, Facebook and Twitter arguments can get heated and it’s good to have someone in your corner. Does your child have peers online who “have their back” if they get into an argument? Do they have friends they look up to online that engage with them?
  6. Protect your child offline.
    It’s important to know if your child engages with the bully offline. Is this one of their classmates? Is it someone they met at an extracurricular activity? If so, your child may also be experiencing bullying in the real world and you can address that through the proper authorities (school administration, team captain, etc.)
  7. Don’t engage the bully or their family online.
    Making additional comments on social media will only fan the flames of these incidents and discussions via email can be misconstrued. If you know who is doing the bullying, you can reach out to their parents if you have a relationship with them to discuss calmly -- but be careful before taking this step

    Many parents are sensitive about such accusations and meeting face-to-face without a neutral third party may only make things worse.
  8. Report and document misconduct.
    Rule violations can be reported to the social media sites, web host or online system the cyberbullying is happening on. Threats of physical harm, however, should be reported to the police.

    Be sure to keep screen shots of all comments and images, especially those that are inappropriate, threatening or profane.
  9. Get your child actively engaged offline.
    If a bullied child is alone and friendless, there is potential for them to experience depression and harmful behaviors. Help them find a hobby they like and can share with others, such martial arts, photography or hiking. Finding positive friendships will provide them the support they need to promote healthy self-esteem.

How Can Parents Prevent Cyberbullying?

Preventing cyberbullying sounds like an impossible feat, but by taking small actions and educating ourselves and our kids about online bullying, it can be managed. 

StopBullying.Gov states that, "When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable." This is a great first step for parents, babysitters, caregivers, teachers, coaches and school administrators to do to stopping bullying behavior. Below are some additional steps parents can take to decrease cyberbullying:

  • Model & reward kind behavior towards others
  • Teach kids the types of cyberbullying they may see
  • Stop bullying behavior immediately
  • Teach kids how to report cyberbullying on social media
  • Monitor cell phones & connected devices
  • Monitor screen time
  • Discuss examples of cyberbullying with your child
  • Research cyberbulllying laws
  • Teach kids about the consequences of cyberbullying

Need more help with cyberbullying? Download our Cyberbullying Guidebook for Parents.

About Gina Badalaty

Gina Badalaty is a lifestyle blogger for moms raising kids with special needs. She is passionate about living a nontoxic life, inclusion for kids with disabilities and technology to help kids thrive.

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