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

Being mocked 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?

The behavioral warning signs are similar to those of face-to-face bullying, however, they occur around time spent online. 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 online accounts 

If you are certain that your child is a victim, it’s time for you to get involved to protect your child. 

How to Protect Your Child from Cyberbullying

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 online social problems happen to everyone.

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 has rules 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 apps they like & use the most. 

You can draw a response from comments like, “You should share that photo” or “Let’s see if your friend is online now.” 

Getting them to engage about their online activities will help you discover what they are 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 and guidelines on tech usage, including what to do when problems or uncomfortable situations arise. 

5. Recruit online friends.

As we all know, Facebook arguments can get heated but it’s good to have someone in your corner. Does your child have peers online who “have their back” should 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 his or her family online.

Making additional comments on social media will only fan the flames of these incidents and a discussion 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 platform, 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. 

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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