Cyberbullying: Information and Prevention Tips

For children and teens, cyberbullying is a danger that exists due to the rise of cellphones and social media sites. Research has shown that 84% of United States households own a computer and more than 90% of adult Americans own cell phones, 64% of which are smartphones with internet access. [1] As time passes these numbers are only increasing, which means that children have easier access to some form of electronic device that connect to the internet. While these devices can allow children to communicate with friends or read about topics that interest them, there can be negative consequences as well.

Types of bullying

There are three types of bullying: [2]

  • Verbal bullying – saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes teasing, name-calling, inappropriate sexual comments, taunting and threats.
  • Social bullying – actions taken to hurt someone’s reputation or relationships. Examples of social bullying include intentionally excluding someone from activities, spreading rumors and embarrassing someone in public.
  • Physical bullying – injury to a person’s body or possessions. Physical bullying can include hitting, kicking, tripping, pushing someone, or taking or damaging someone’s belongings.

What is cyberbullying?

When verbal or social bullying takes place through some form of electronic technology, such as a computer or cellphone, it is cyberbullying. The attacks often happen through social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, or through text messaging. [3] The creation of photo based apps such as Snapchat and Instagram have added even more complexity to the social media landscape being navigated by young people. Cyberbullying can come in many different forms, however; any attack on a child can have extreme, traumatic results.

Children who are cyberbullied have a higher risk of depression and anxiety than those who are do not experience bullying. They are more likely to suffer from increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, skip school, use alcohol or drugs, have low self-esteem, become disinterested in activities, and have health problems. In rare cases, thoughts of suicide and self-harm can develop, as well as thoughts of retaliation through violence. [4]

Studies conducted on cyberbullying have had varying results. Some show that less than ten percent of middle and high schoolers experienced cyberbullying in the past year while others found that 15 percent of high schoolers experienced cyberbullying in the same period. [5] Some adults commit and are victim to cyber attacks, though these attacks are considered cyber-harassment or cyberstalking. [6]

Ways to protect your child from cyberbullying

While cyberbullying can happen to any child with access to electronic technology, there are ways to reduce this threat. Communication is the best tool for fighting against cyberbullies. [7] Parents need to communicate with their children about what they do online or over the phone. An open line of communication between parents and children can inform the children about the concerns and help resolve issues if they occur. Parents should teach their children about the dangers of cyberbullying and how to be secure online. It is also important for parents to teach their children to be respectful of others online and to come forward if they see signs of cyberbullying.

One way to stay safe on the internet is to use the security and privacy settings offered by social media sites. These settings can prevent children from sharing information with strangers or communicating with them. Unfortunately, these measures might not help if the bully is a person that the child is friends with on the site. Parents may want to friend or follow their children on these sites to keep an eye on what they share and who they interact with online. [8]

Parents can establish rules that their children must follow while using electronics. Children may not like the idea of being restricted, but limiting access to certain sites or the ability to share certain information can be an effective way of keeping children safe from cyberbullies and other online predators. [9]

Cyberbullying is one of the many technology-based dangers that children can encounter today. It can have serious, long-lasting effects that sometimes traumatize children to the point where they act out violently against others or themselves. Any child with access to electronic devices could be at risk of cyberbullying, but steps can be taken to help children stay safer. Parents should talk to their children about the importance of being respectful online, the dangers of cyberbullying, and maintain an open line of communication about online safety. Awareness and communication can be the best defense against online attackers.

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[3] https://www.stopbullying>;