Cyberbullying – An Overview for Parents

Conflicts between young people and children are a normal part of growing up. Because of this, adults may mistake cyberbullying and/or bullying for normal childhood conflict when in fact, they are a lot more serious and potentially very harmful.

Cyberbullying is complex and may include:

  • Sharing and posting nasty, rude or angry messages, known as harassment.
  • Cyber stalking, which is repeated harassment usually containing threatening messages with the aim to create fear and intimidate.
  • Sending personal information about others that has been shared privately, which may include sensitive personal images and information, often of a sexual nature. This is known as outing.
  • An extremely heated online argument, using offensive and rude language. This is called flaming.

What is cyberbullying and why do people bully?

Bullying is deliberate physical, emotional and/or psychological harassment of one person or group by another person or group. Cyberbullying is the label used for bullying that uses electronic means such as the mobile phones and Internet to intentionally and aggressively harm someone. It predominantly occurs through blogs and websites, including chat rooms and instant messaging and SMS. Because cyberbullying can be anonymous, the fear factor for victims can be high as the cyberbully can enter the security of the victim’s home and they may feel that there is no escape.

There are lots of different reasons people give for bullying:

  • For strength and power over others
  • As a way to get known and be popular at school
  • For scaring others and thus hiding their own scared feelings
  • Taking it out on others and using it as a way to try and be happier as they are unhappy
  • Because they have been or they are bullied themselves

What can you expect?

Cyberbullying includes spreading rumours, name calling, threats of physical harm, abusive comments, being ignored or excluded, online impersonation, having opinions slammed and being sent upsetting or rude images.

Cyberbullying usually focuses on physical appearances, in the primary school age group, while in the secondary school years it tends to focus on the way people act and relationships, especially if they don’t fit the norm.

  • Let your kids know you care and remain approachable.

Long periods of feeling scared, ashamed, helpless, powerless and other emotions as a result of cyberbullies victimization can have long-lasting effects on children, resulting in poorer functioning in occupational and social roles and greater likelihood of repeatedly thinking about suicide right up into adulthood.

  • Calm conversations with your kids will always be more productive. Take time to listen, hear and understand…

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