Overlooked Facts on Cyber Bullying: Self Esteem, Self Confidence, Body Image, and Eating Disorders
The only thing we want as parents is the best for our children. Not knowing what kind of risks your child is exposed to can be vexing. Statistics show that most children don’t mention when they encounter problems on the internet. How can you watch out for them and make sure you are giving them the support they need?
Children today have to embrace technology. However, the alarming increase in minors experiencing and witnessing cyberbullying is fast becoming an issue every parent needs to deal with.
You should always be on the watch out to identify any changes in your child as so soon as they arise. Below are some of the biggest dangers that parents don’t think about.
Self-confidence and Self-esteem
In most cases, children who are bullied will lose self-confidence drastically. Here are a few signs to watch out for:
- Saying or expressing that they feel unwanted and unloved.
- Suddenly unable to tolerate everyday frustrations
- Pretending to be emotionally indifferent and distant to family and friends.
Parents, remember, you have the most power in restoring your child’s self-confidence. Let them know they are loved, frequently and explicitly. If you notice any sudden changes as mentioned above, sit them down and try to find out what triggered the abnormal behavior.
Take note when they perform well. When you praise your child, give them specific examples of how they have done well.
A research done with 1000 girls between 10-16 years old found that 40% of them believed that they were not good enough. They suffered from negative perception of their body image and were concerned about gaining weight. Research showed that there has been a rise of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia among girls between 10-15 years.
This unhealthy relationship with food stems from the attempt to get “the perfect body”, one that they think they will finally be happy with – thigh gaps, flat tummies, perfect hair, tall and slender. This is not surprising when they are surrounded by “perfect” people on social media, tv, movies, and other media outlets. Worst, cyber bullies troll Facebook and Snapchat, harshly criticizing people’s look. If you notice your teen changing their their eating habits and not wanting to talk about it. Take action before it affects your child’s health.
Here are a few symptoms to watch out for:
- Abnormal eating habits (suddenly eating a lot in one meal, skipping multiple meals)
- Weighing themselves frequently
- Weight change in short amount of time
- Unusual interest in exercising and decline in health
We’ve all heard of it: Teenage girls stalking other people’s Instagrams and then dissect everything in the mirror. Teenage boys are the same way with seeking out the perfect athlete’s body and defined abs. Overexposure through social media can take this to a new level. In extreme cases, we see minors undergo cosmetic surgeries and even skin bleaching or lip injections.
Adolescence is a very delicate stage. As a parent, you are torn between being protective and giving your child their space. However, their safety is always the priority and if that means having to control their internet use, so be it. Encourage your child to be true to themselves. Always speak positive words to them to boost their self-confidence. Your child will need your guidance on internet use. Teach them social media etiquette. Encourage them to only accept friend requests from people they have met and trust. Help them set privacy settings on their accounts.
Do all this while respecting your child’s space. each them to love and accept themselves as they are. The best counter to cyberbullying is raising children who are confident enough to resist and speak up when bullying happens. Create an environment that your child will thrive in and not merely survive.