Cyberbullies do such things as:
- send insulting messages
- spread rumors
- post embarrassing photos
- pose as someone else and send messages supposedly from the victim
- share someone's secrets online
- threaten the victim and make him or her live in fear
- exclude their victim from an online group
Who is affected by cyberbullying?
- Middle-school- and high-school-aged youngsters are the most likely to be affected. Your child may be a victim and not tell you. Or, your child may be a cyberbully.
Why do kids cyberbully?
- Children become cyberbullies for the same reason they bully in person. It makes them feel important. But unlike bullies, cyberbullies can hide behind anonymity on the computer and be just as mean or meaner to others.
What are the dangers of cyberbullying?
- Victims of cyberbullying can get so upset and/or depressed that they may attempt suicide or hurt others. While bullies may threaten children at school, cyberbullies "invade" your home so that there's no escape from them. Hurtful messages or pictures can be e-mailed, posted online or forwarded via cell phones, making the bullying widespread and long-lasting.
What are the warning signs a child is being cyberbullied?
- Warning signs may include: unexplained anxiety, anger, sadness or fear, especially after using the computer or cell phone, falling grades, lack of interest in friends, school or other activities, trouble sleeping, more or less interest in the computer or cell phone.
What can parents and guardians do about cyberbullies?
- Talk to your children. Tell them to let you know if anyone is being a cyberbully. If someone is, have your child save all communication from that person, including e-mails, IMs and text messages.
- Report incidents to the Internet or cell phone provider, your child's school and/or the police if you fear your child is in danger.
- Find out how to block the cyberbully's e-mail address or phone number, or change your child's online information.
- Note that filtering software cannot prevent cyberbullying.
What can your children do?
- If one of your children receives a hurtful message, he or she needs to tell you about it, but not send a message back. Responding negatively to the cyberbully, or forwarding the hurtful message on to others, makes your child a cyberbully, too.
- Avoid websites where cyberbullying occurs.
- To keep others from being hurt, your children should report any instances of someone they know being cyberbullied.
The following are articles that are rich with guidance for parents on helping your kids navigate digital communication and cyberbullying issues.