Cyber-bullying is the use of technology to bully an individual or a group. Bullying is any repeated behavior by anyone with the intention to harm another person or group. The intended harm could be social, psychological and even, in extreme cases, physical. This could result in shame, guilt, fear, withdrawal, loneliness and depression particularly for children.
Children and young people spend a lot of time online and are often unable to keep the real and virtual world separate. This makes it harder for them to escape cyber-bullying. Nasty messages, videos and gossip can spread faster online and may stay there for a long time. Mostly, the attackers are anonymous which makes it harder to stop them.
What is cyber-bullying?
Children are cyber-bullied in many ways, including:
- Abusive texts and emails
- Hurtful messages, images or videos
- Imitating others online
- Excluding others online
- Nasty online gossip and chat
Cyberbullying can happen to anyone however children are more vulnerable to cyber crime. Often, children involved in cyber-bullying are also part of real life bullying
Is my child being cyberbullied?
Children often don’t tell their parents about cyber-bullying. They fear that it may be their fault and/or they may be blamed in some way or the other. It is important to look out for signs that your child may be the target of cyber-bullying or struggling for other reasons. Notice for any:
- Changes in personality, e.g. More withdrawn, anxious, sad or angry
- Appears more lonely or distressed
- Unexpected changes in friendship groups
- Decline in school work
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Avoidance of school or clubs
- A decline in physical health
If your child shows any of these signs, or other worrying and out of character behavior, tell them you are worried and want to help. If they do not open up to you ask anyone else close to talk to them (aunties, uncles, grandparents, coaches, teachers). Ensure that you keep a close eye on their online and offline behavior. It is important that the child is closely connected to supportive friends and family both online and offline.
Reassure your child that you are there to support them and help them, no matter what. Support them even if they have participated in bullying. Keep them connected to supportive friends on and offline.
DMTI for juniors has a range of age appropriate online information and related links to support parents in the education of themselves and their children. Resources are available for:
DMTI for juniors also delivers outreach programs which offers Internet Safety Awareness training programs for parents, students and teachers to encourage a consistent approach to cyber-safety education between school and home. These sessions are informative, non-technical and available to all schools. You can also call our helpline for any assistance.