Parents used to worry about their kids being bullied on the playground or walking home from school. One of the unfortunate side effects of the computer age, however, is cyberbullying. Now a child can be the victim of torments and cruelty right from the computer monitor— and sometimes words can hurt even more than a shove at recess.
According to DoSomething.org, a nonprofit group for young people that promotes social change, cyberbullying occurs when a young person threatens, torments, harasses or even embarrasses another young person through technologies such as the Internet and cell phones.
DoSomething lists a few disturbing facts about cyberbullying. Nearly 43 percent of kids have been bullied online, with one in four having had it happen more than once. Seventy percent of students report seeing frequent online bullying, and 90 percent of teens who have seen social-media bullying say they have ignored the incident.
Signs of a Cyberbully
Obviously, parents can’t rely on teens always protecting each other from cyberbullying. Parents also should know the facts and signs so they can help their children overcome and stop online and social tormenting.
CNN mentions signs a child is being cyberbullied. They include:
- Social withdrawal: If a tween stops playing online games or using the phone, that should raise suspicions.
- Fear of technology: A warning sign is if a child looks nervous when text messages pop up and reads instead of logging on to a computer.
- Bad behavior: When teens act out, it’s possible someone is making their lives miserable.
More is at Risk
Besides being bullied, children and teens also have to watch out for identity theft. Unfortunately, even at a young age their personal information is at risk. Equifax’s Finance Blog says warning signs of identity theft include a child receiving pre-approval for credit or a credit card application, which is unusual. Another red flag, it says, is if a parent opens a child’s first savings account and discovers an account already is on file. Identity theft services can track your information to stop and prevent the theft of your and your child’s personal information.
The Dangers of a Bully
Cyberbullying also has its own set of unique dangers. DoSomething.org says kids who are cyberbullied are 2-9 times more likely to commit suicide. Only one in 10 victims will report being cyberbullied to a parent or trusted adult.
CNN says if a parent suspects his or her child is the victim of cyberbullying, chances are the child has opened up to a close pal about the abuse. Encourage your child to report suspected abuse, either toward them or toward a friend.
A mom or dad also can use Internet parental controls and monitoring software. Honest, regular discussions about a kid’s life on the web also can be beneficial in identifying a bully.
Being proactive definitely can keep a child from being prey to this new kind of bully.